The weather is cooling off, kids are going back to school, fall is just around the corner and this month is the right time for wine in the Windy City! Two of my favorite fests, the Windy City Wine Festival and Chicago Gourmet, come around every year at this time and give us a chance to sample great wine along with food from local restaurants & chefs on the lakefront. They are both different from eachother and definitely worth the experience.
The Windy City Wine Festival normally takes place in the first half of the month, this year on September 9 & 10, at Buckingham Fountain. I went on Saturday afternoon (gates open at 3pm) and couldn't have asked for a better day- sunny and clear with a fresh lake breeze. Tickets are $35 at the gate, $27 in advance, which gets you a souvenier cup, 10 drink sample tickets and the opportunity to purchase wine by the bottle at a discount. The only hard thing was to figure out which wines to use the tickets on! Some of the wines I tasted are A to Z Wineworks Pinot Noir which is a great under $20 wine, Emilio Moro Malleolus Ribera del Duero is an amazing Tempranillo, Clos de los Siete which is one of my favorite red blends under $15, and Cline Cellars Cashmere which is a smartly priced GSM (Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre blend). Some very good local wineries were onhand and pouring some interesting stuff. Cooper's Hawk Winery had a very impressive Almond Sparkling wine made with Chardonnay and almond oil which reminded me of almond biscotti. Lynfred Winery was pouring their Vin de City White & Red which are good value blends and Wollersheim Winery had a very nice Riesling and a decent Wisconsin Pinot Noir. Pretty good food samples were for sale from Sullivan's Steakhouse, Markethouse, The Melting Pot and Caoba Mexican Bar & Grill.
Chicago Gourmet takes place in the latter half of the month, this year on September 23-25 in Millenium Park. The weather was not as kind, as it was about 50 degrees, cloudy and rainy, which affected the grass surface making things very muddy. That didn't stop everyone from having fun though as the wine was flowing and the aroma of small bites filled the air. There was a great variety of beverages like illy coffee, Blue Moon beer, Lucid Absinthe, Pyrat Rum and Gosling's Stormy Ginger Beer. Oh, and the wines- Cosentino Winery, Domaine Drouhin, Newton, Casa Lapostolle, Chalk Hill, Grgich Hills Estate, Heitz Wine Cellars, Northstar, Silver Oak, Livio Felluga and Laurent-Perrier, just to name a few. Food was being served by many restaurants like Benny's Chop House, Frontera Grill, David Burke's Primehouse, Gibson's, Market, Texas de Brazil, Fulton's and the upcoming Filini Bar & Restaurant. And not to be missed, amazing chefs like Tony Priolo (Piccolo Sogno), Dirk Flanigan (The Gage/Henri), Jimmy Bannos Sr.(Heaven on Seven/The Purple Pig), Graham Elliot, Rick Tramonto, Stephanie Izard (Girl and the Goat) and Tony Mantuano (Spiaggia) were onhand for cooking demos. Another amazing experience!
Make sure to watch out for these events next year in September and I hope to see you there!