Back when I shifted my career from sommelier to educator and marketer, my first project was to create a database of every wine product sold in Chicagoland. When I reached 10,000 entries, the client was thrilled. This was 1989.
Chicago’s Wine Scene: Then & Now
Let me put this into perspective, especially if you weren’t born yet in 1989. In 1989, the U.S. was known for jug wines and generics (such as California Chianti), with our premium wine palate strictly Neapolitan: the vanilla of Chardonnay, the chocolate of Cab and the strawberry of White Zin. Chicago cuisine meant ball park franks, deep-dish pizza and meat. And in this setting, according to my database, Chicagolanders had 10,000 individual choices – producers, regions, grapes, sizes - just to get a bottle of wine for dinner!
I don’t know about you, but 10,000 choices pretty much paralyzes me. And now, (since 2014), the U.S. is the world’s top wine customer. In 2017, Chicago was named “Best restaurant city in America” by Condè Nast Traveler, a rep we maintain still. I ask you, in this setting, how many individual choices do you now have to get a good, fairly-priced wine? I shudder.
Me becoming the first woman to receive the Wine Spectator's Grand Award in 1984
Making It Easy
Well, not really. For me, buying wine is easy. If it’s a teensy bistro in Paris or one of Chicago’s wine warehouses, choosing wine for me isn’t daunting, it’s exciting. Because I know the secret, I know the system, I know how to organize wine into four easy categories that tell me how the wine will taste, what food it will go with, if I’m paying a fair price and more.
If you sign up for The Chopping Block’s World of Wine: A Tasting Series (WOW), you’ll know too.
You’ll know why a wine has the flavor it does – from light and lemony, dense and meaty to honeylike – and how to select flavors you enjoy. You’ll know how to talk to a sommelier. You’ll understand why one wine costs under $10 and another upwards of $1,000 per bottle, sometimes way upwards. You’ll understand what “red wine with meat” really means. You’ll know how to extract every droplet of pleasure and insight from your wine, just like a wine pro, and how to put your experience into words.
Experience the World of Wine
In four in-depth sessions, held at our Lincoln Square location and conducted by yours truly, you’ll learn the world’s primary grapes, regions and taste eight limited production wines, all accompanied by wine-friendly appetizers.
On Day 1 (August 5), we begin at the beginning, laying a foundation of wine’s chemistry and history. Then, we zoom onto the grape – by far wine’s most influential variable – including a brand-new, groundbreaking study that puts scientific evidence to thousands of years of wine tradition. Of course, we taste, in this class eight hand-craft wines from the New World.
Day 2 (August 12), we contrast New World winemaking with Old World winegrowing, with a focus on France and her profound influence on the world of wine, from 4 B.C. straight up to a March 2021 strategy to combat climate change. Our tasting of eight classic wines explores France’s prime regions.
Day 3 (August 19), we’ll explore the union of man, plant and planet in some of the most challenging and sought-after wine regions on earth, with tasting of eight special-select wines from Spain, Germany and South America.
On Day 4 (August 26), we learn how Italy has capitalized on grape, climate, soil and her millennia of winegrowing culture to lead the modern world in quantity, innovation and quality. Then we celebrate!
Our graduation dinner pairs wine with four classic Italian dishes, prepared by our TCB chefs.
Who should enroll in the World of Wine? Entry-level wine drinkers will turbo-charge their knowledge, laying a solid foundation for years of happy drinking to come. Intermediate wine lovers will deepen their confidence and expertise. Wine aficionados will have a fun review and share in up-to-the-minute wine insider tips. Of course, WOW is a natural for anyone who loves to eat delicious food, drink delicious wine and have lively conversations about both.
30,000 Wines and Counting
According to a new, online wine marketplace, Chicagoland now offers more than 30,000 individual wines (not including various sizes or vintages). Are you ready to pick wine for your busy holiday entertaining and gift-giving season from 30,000 choices? With TCB’s World of Wine, you will be!