The Friday meetup at Juicy Wine Co in Chicago was a good time. Former participants in my U of C classes, some site readers that I had never met including a sommelier and a leading econoblogger were there. As was the inimitable team from Upgrade: Travel Better.
Juicy offers a compact but cool environment that even made this New Yorker jealous. Why? The wine bar/wine shop is not legally an option in New York thanks to silly laws prohibit wine consumers from buying a bottle to go or to stay. Juicy charges a $15 corkage, or in their parlance, “chill out” fee over the retail prices, which makes it the cheapest place to sit down and enjoy a bottle of Krug in the city.
I stuck with the wines by the glass enjoying a Kerner from Alto-Adige and a plate of American artisanal cheeses. Charcuterie is also available but no hot food. The wine list is not enormous but the selections are well-chosen with many selections I wanted to try. Oddly, for being a wine destination, the wine list has no vintages.
We were served by the wildly knowledgeable and personable Linda Violago who has served many a fine wine at Charlie Trotter’s, her main gig, for the past few years. She is leaving Chicago in ten days to assume the chief wine duties at Mugaritz in San Sebastian, Spain. If readers of this blog go to that restaurant in the near future (and I am envious, yes), then give her a shout!
Juicy Wine Company
694 N. Milwaukee Ave.
As we went around the room to introduce ourselves at my University of Chicago class on Saturday afternoon, one participant had a surprising tale to share with the class.
He said that he and the woman to his right had taken my class there on October 1, 2005 on the politics of wine in Chile, Argentina, and Spain. He remembered the date because it was his birthday. But he also remembered it because he and the woman met that day and they had been “drinking wine together ever since.”
Food and wine pairing? Forget it! They got a life pairing!
Fun vino-philes, local bloggers of note, and many others that I haven’t met before have let me know they’re coming. Get your weekend started on a good note–hope you can make it!
See the original posting.
I’ll be in town and look forward to meeting anybody who can make it. We can try wines by the glass (or any bottle from the shop with a $15 corkage fee–or “chill out” fee as they call it) together at the newish and hipster Juicy Wine Co. They have charcuterie and cheeses available.
The meetup is simply a chance to meet in the real world, off the internet, with wine enthusiasts, in particular, readers of this site and people who’ve taken my wine classes at the U of C. There’s no charge other than what you order at the bar. Consider it a happy hour. Or two.
So get your weekend started with fellow vino-philes! Post a comment or drop me a line at tyler [at] drvino [dot] com if you can make it. I look forward to seeing you there!
When: Friday, May 11, 5:30 – 7:30 PM
Where: Juicy Wine Company, 694 N. Milwaukee Ave. (bet Chicago and Erie)
Who: you – and feel free to bring a friend!
On Saturday at the University of Chicago, we had a fun time “critiquing the critics.” We discussed what is certainly one of the hottest hot-button issues in wine, the use of scores, and assessed a variety of other ways for evaluating wine. We tasted our way through ten wines and munched through some artisanal cheeses and breads.
The wines were from a range of styles and included bubbly, red and white. Some of the faves were:
* Bisol prosecco, NV (about $13; find this wine). Controversy came with this wine with high praise from Wine & Spirits (93 points) and faint praise wine Wine Spec (86 points). The yummy sparkler got a thumbs up from the group.
* William Fevre, Vaudesir, Grand Cru Chablis, 2004 (about $45; find this wine). I didn’t even realize that Rovani/Parker tasted Chablis but Rovani slapped a 93 on this one. ‘Tis good. Wonderful minerality with delicate acidity, which makes for a very nice mouthfeel and it has an excellent finish. No unanimity on this wine to be sure, with others preferring the American chardonnay, but I thought it was excellent, if pricey.
* Deisen, shiraz, Barossa, 2002 (about $50; find this wine). A brawny shiraz from down under with 15% alcohol. Parker 94. The class loved it with no dissenters. While the wine is very user friendly as far as shiraz-ma-taz is concerned, I found the alcohol to be somewhat off-putting.
* Castano, Hecula, monastrell, 2004. (about $10; find this wine). This is a darned good value vino since many participants thought it was at least $30. It’s got hints of that mourvedre gamey-ness and I think it could do with a few years in the cellar to tame it a bit. But still, it’s vigor would be great with game or grilled meats.
* Dominus, Napa, 2003 (about $100; find this wine) This was the most critically contested wine of the day with a huge spread between Parker’s 95 and the Wine Spec’s Jim Laube zinging it with an 81 (a score so low that the Wine Advocate would not even publish it). Laube didn’t even grumble about TCA, the usual cause of his zingers, simply going with the “disappointingly dry and austere.” I poured it blind and there were lots of pros and only two cons before I revealed the “controversy.”
It was a hedonistic afternoon. If you’re interested, there may be a couple of spaces left for my next class in May. Hope to see you there!
In his column yesterday (which is currently the #3 most emailed on the site), the NYT chief wine critic and chief wine blogger says that the best thing for wine newbies to do is find a trusted wine shop and put $250 of your wine budget in their hands and walk out with a case of wine. It’s better than even taking a class he argues.
As a wine educator (with three classes this week), I have to object! But he does make a good point–two good points, actually.
First, my objection. In my classes, I select wines, organize them thematically or stylistically, pair them with food (granted, just cheese, bread, and occasionally olives not a full meal), show maps, images, and talk about the politics, people and history of a wine. We also talk about how to find the best wine buys locally, wine-friendly restaurants, where to taste wines for free, how to serve, and much more. The two hours fly by. And all participants get to talk, sip, and discuss, so there is a social aspect as well. So don’t write off classes too quickly, even for newbies! They can have much to offer.
But Asimov still has a fundamentally good point: there’s no substitute for learning through tasting. Not everyone will have wine classes available near them or perhaps the time to take a class so then I absolutely agree that you should put your money where your mouth is via a local retailer. This lowers the barriers of entry so that anybody can do it, regardless of level of wine geekdom.
The second good point that Asimov makes is to trust a local retailer, hopefully two retailers. Why? Well, for one, they have the wines available to sell you. Many times you can read about great sounding wines on the web or in print but then you can’t find them near you. Trusting the retailer doesn’t lead to that frustration.
Moreover, you can have feedback. Unlike a critic whom you may never meet, you might visit your retailer once a week or once a month. So there’s accountability. They want to make you happy and keep you coming back, not sell you wine a hedonistic fruit bomb if your preferences run more toward the earthy and the minerally.
But one subtle distinction: the custom case is the way to go over the pre-fab case. Many wine shops put together cases at various price points or for different flavor preferences. While these sometimes can be good, I’m always leery that they are putting wines that need to “move” in such cases. When you choose a staffer to put together your case for you, not only is it more customized, but it’s more likely to be wines chosen simply on their merits, rather than economic reasons.
So, why are you still in front of your computer? Get thee to a shop!
Geography is now less of an excuse for not taking a wine class with me this spring!
Critiquing the critics, University of Chicago, 4/14, 2:30 – 6:30
We review different styles of wine evaluation culminating with YOU being the critic in our tasting. Details and registration
Red, white, and green wine, University of Chicago, 5/12, 2:30 – 6:30
While organic food is all the rage, organic wine has arguably lagged behind. We assess the various shades of “green” wine and then put our knowledge to the test and see if we can taste the difference. Details and registration
Wine emergency! How to navigate a wine list, NYU, 3/22 6:30 – 8:30
The business dinner. The big date. Avoid making them a wine emergency as we navigate wine lists–and taste!–with confidence. Details and registration
I hope to see you at one of these one-day sessions! News of a Chicago meetup forthcoming…
With the Super Bowl looming on February 4, some wine geeks may be wondering what to drink during the event — while others may be wondering how they can win some wine.
Betting and sports have a long (March Madness) but limited (Nevada) tradition in the US. But it is only thanks to Las Vegas we have an indication of what the odds are of one team winning over another. The most common indicator is the “spread” or number of point margin of victory of one team over another. In this year’s Super Bowl XLI the Indianapolis Colts are the favorite by seven points over the Chicago Bears.
Thus a fan of the Bears could take seven points, see her team lose 21-17 but still win on the bet. You win while the team loses. This suboptimal outcome means that your bet is not aligned with your enthusiasm for the team.
I put this puzzle to my friend who writes about sports on Gothamist and he advised me of the “moneyline,” which awards different values to bets while not offering any point spread. Thus if your team wins, you win the wager. The moneyline for the Superbowl is Indianapolis -240 and Chicago +200. That means that to place a $240 wager on the Colts in Las Vegas would win back your original wager plus $100. A $100 bet on the Bears would yield the original wager plus $200.
Thus wine geeks who are fans of the Bears could bet a $10 wine with a friend and Indianapolis supporter who would put up a $22 bottle of wine. Say, a Texier Cotes du Rhone 2004 (find this wine) for a Heinrich Mayr-Nusser 02 Lagrein Riserva (find this wine)? Or raise the stakes to double those price points if you are so inclined. But at the end of the day–or football season–the best way to celebrate friendship might just be if you had to drink the bottle together.
Assuming, of course, that you both are over 21 and live in Nevada.
The original version of this post appeared on January 27, 2006.