Are you a wine drinker who says, “I don’t know much about wine, but I know what I like.”?
If so, you can increase your likes by attending retail wine tastings that bring wine power to the people.
Taste Wine with The Chopping Block
The Chopping Block offers complimentary wine tastings at the Lincoln Square location Saturdays and Sundays, 2pm-5pm and at the Merchandise Mart, Monday through Friday, 11am-1pm.
No Cork Dork Certification Required
Whether sponsored by a grocery, liquor chain or boutique shop, you won’t need crystal stemware or sommelier cred to attend, but there is etiquette to ensure enjoyment for all.
To begin, step up to a tasting table and ask for a run-down of what’s on offer. Expect pourers to provide wine name, brief description and bottle cost. If any or all wines are of interest, ask for a cup or glass. Tasters will pour about one ounce of each selection.
Tastings are complimentary unless cost is clearly advertised. Free, however, doesn’t mean all-you-can-drink. Consumption is monitored to control cost of sample bottles and to safeguard sobriety. (The human body processes about five ounces of wine per hour, even if those ounces are poured from plastic cups.) If you need to re-taste, ask; but don’t be insulted if told politely “no.” Your pourer has as much influence over Illinois liquor regulations as the TSA employee that confiscates your toothpaste.
Chacun à son gout. (Each to their own taste.)
Feedback such as, “out of my price range” or “too dry” is appreciated and passed along to sponsors.
You may reserve in-depth commentary such as, “I get this cheaper elsewhere”, or “I’ve never heard of Bordeaux but it shouldn’t taste like this” as well as down-turned facial expressions and “Yuck!”
Details on production techniques and food complements may be forthcoming, maybe not. Pourers can range from disinterested freelancers to bona fide wine pro’s part-timing to increase personal income. Gauge questions by your pourer’s comfort level, as well as the number of other folks waiting for a sip.
If you decide to purchase, take the bottle(s) from the tasting table; pourers may be compensated on sales. No worry if you decide to think about it; tasters are also compensated on the number of customers contacted.
What was that wine … ?
Even the most casual wine drinker should record preferred labels, whether with a wine tasting app, cell phone photo, or even the time-tested tasting notebook. Those who rely on remembering “that wine I had at the Italian restaurant on Randolph” or a label “with a dog on it” are shopping for frustration.
“Wine improves with age. The older I get, the better I like it.” (Anonymous)
If you look under forty years of age, have your picture I.D. available.
Food may be offered to complement wine but not - again - as an all-you-can-eat. Help yourself to a reasonable portion. Please, chew and swallow before continuing any conversation.
Finally, if tastes are offered in a plastic cup, keep it for the entire tasting. In other states, the re-use of tasting implements is verboten, but throughout most of Chicagoland, we the people can support the environment by re-using our cups.
Good wine, good food, good times!
For a more in-depth wine experience, join The Chopping Block’s Happy Hour.
At Lincoln Square, (Thursday from 5:45pm to 6:45pm) and the Merchandise Mart (select Tuesday, 4:45pm to 5:45pm) guests enjoy samples of two fine wines complemented by a selection of cheese and charcuterie for only $10 (plus tax). Bottles of wine purchased during Happy Hour are 10% off. Registration is required so visit our website to sign up.
And if all this tasting leaves you wanting more, you can learn the techniques used by wine pro’s to get the most enjoyment from every sip (plus every bite of cheese!) during our seated seminar:
Culinary Heaven: Wine & Cheese Pairing on Sunday, September 15 from 5:30pm to 7pm at Lincoln Square.