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2011 Pinot Days Tasting: November 12, Chicago

pinot_days_logo.gifWhile those of us on the West Coast are still lingering in the illusion of Autumn, the chill has descended upon the shores of Lake Michigan, and Chicagoans must be sure they're drinking red wine, both to warm themselves, and to steel themselves psychologically for the punishment of Winter. In November, however, there's one particular red wine that most folks in the Windy City should be drinking: Pinot Noir.

Once upon a time there were only a few big-time, high-quality wine events around the country, and they tended to cluster heavily on the two coasts. These days, however, we are in in the midst of a gold rush of sorts, as people figure out that there's both good money to be made in putting on large scale wine tastings, and plenty of people who love to go to them.

Thanks to this phenomenon, wine lovers in Chicago are getting a serious taste of California Pinot Noir each year when Pinot Days comes to town. What started a couple of years ago as a San Francisco Pinot lover's answer to the long running ZAP Zinfandel Festival has now become a multi-city Pinot Noir tasting extravaganza that is exposing more wine lovers to more good Pinot than you can shake a stick at.

On Saturday November 12th at 1:00 PM, if you call yourself a wine lover and have fifty bucks to your name, you should probably be standing on Navy Pier with a ticket in hand for Chicago Pinot Days. While the event is not as large as the one put on in San Francisco (only about 70 producers instead of hundreds), it represents an opportunity for Illinois wine lovers to taste a lot of wines to which they may not ordinarily have access.

Of course, if you're a hardcore wine lover, you may want to participate in more than the Saturday Grand Tasting. The festivities actually begin Thursday with various winemaker dinners at great restaurants in the city. Check out the event web site for more information on the dinners and several other activities.

Chicago Pinot Days 2011 Grand Tasting
Saturday, November 12, 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Navy Pier
Exhibit Hall B
600 East Grand Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611 (map)

Tickets are $50 per person and should be purchased online in advance. Use the code VINOGCH11 at checkout to get a 10% discount!

My usual tips for large public tastings apply: get a good night's sleep; wear dark colors; drink lots of water; go with a full stomach; and spit so you can taste more than 5 or 10 wines and actually remember them.

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud