While 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.
One Saturday November 14th 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 50 producers instead of hundreds), it represents an opportunity for Illinois wine lovers to taste a lot of wines that they may not ordinarily have access to.
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 Wednesday with a dinner at Uncommon Ground on Devon, and Friday night features a winemakers’ dinner at Bin36. Check out the event web site for more information on the dinners and other activities.
Chicago Pinot Days 2009 Grand Tasting
Saturday, November 14, 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
600 East Grand Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611
Tickets are $50 per person and should be purchased online in advance.
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.