Whether you’re a wine connoisseur, enthusiast, or an all-out snob, Chicago Gourmet aims to please when it comes to the art of wine tasting. From the informative seminars to the elite Grand Cru, this year’s event pulled out all of the stops (or should I say corks?) to please discerning wine drinkers.
You truly know this is a wine-focused event when you pass through entrance and you are immediately given a wine glass. From that moment on, it is quite a challenge to keep your glass empty for more than five minutes at a time. Event novices may be overwhelmed when they encounter rows upon rows of wine artisans, distributors, and vintners, nearly becoming paralyzed with decisions. Yet an event veteran will come with a game plan – aka a checklist in one hand and a wine glass in another. So many wines, so little time!
This year was a special treat for me as I was invited to attend the Grand Cru, an exclusive wine tasting of some of the finest wines in the world. Offered on Saturday and Sunday this year, the Grand Cru was an additional cost beyond general admission, but allowed guests a chance to learn and enjoy tastings with Master Sommeliers and an elite core of Chicago’s top sommeliers and winery representatives. Having been to Napa Valley on a behind the scenes wine-tasting tour, I was very familiar with tastings. However, Napa Valley tends to be more about the whole experience, where tastings are done somewhat leisurely (as is the California way), as you steadily make your way from vineyard to vineyard, taking in the beautiful sites along the way.
Not so with the Grand Cru. For two full hours, Grand Cru attendees could sip, study, swallow, and spit to their heart’s content, sampling choice wines from Louis Latour, Stag’s Leap, Francis Ford Coppola, and Robert Mondavi, not to mention Dom Pérignon and Veuve Clicquot – all in an area the size of a large balcony.
Knowing my metabolism was no match for over 100 wines and champagnes, I decided to go with a themed wine-tasting and focus my sites on le rosé. I was not disappointed. From dry to sweet, the rosé wines were well-represented. Although on most days I’m partial to dry rosé, I especially loved the Veuve Clicquot Rosé NV, a slightly sweet rosé hailing from Champagne, France.
The constant flow of wine peppered with interesting conversations about grapes and vintages did remind me of Napa, although amplified by 10 and with no driving required. However, if you asked me which I prefer – Napa wine tasting or the Grand Cru – my heart still lies in Napa. But the Grand Cru is a sweet reminder of how much I want to return.