Seven reasons to lift up a glass

London has a “season,” so why not Las Vegas? Chock-full of poolside parties, tastings and events, our season is off to a healthy start. The students of UNLV’s Chef Artist Series hit a home run with their capstone class April 24, featuring delicious dishes and paired wines from Napa Valley, Calif.’s St. Francis winery. The next night, Herbs & Rye hosted the Fratelli Branca Experience celebrating the bar’s new Fernet Branca tap and the arrival of Punt e Mes. Look for the beloved red vermouth to pop up on menus soon. Industry members showed up in droves for Absolut Stuga on May 1, partying in stugas (Swedish cabins) for live performances by Bag Raiders and Tokyo Police Club. The Wine Spectator Grand Tour took over The Mirage’s grand ballroom May 5, offering more than 200 top-rated wines. I skipped the mile-long Château Margaux queue in favor of a hundred-pointer by Smith-Haut-Lafitte. Vegas Uncork’d dominated the following weekend, and saw the Cosmopolitan’s Mariena Mercer win the Mix Off on May 11, her first competition since the Cosmo’s 2010 opening. And finally, Rock ’n’ Roll Wine threw yet another stellar Reggae Pool Party on May 19 at Green Valley Ranch Resort—the seventh, to be exact.