I'm down with a lot of things—sustainable building, tea, puppies—but when I got an e-mail from a friend suggesting we hit up a $10 wine tasting, I was especially
And that's how I ended up at Wine Down, a wine tasting held on the first Friday of every month from 6 to 8 p.m. at Foodlife in Water Tower Place. Foodlife is quite possibly the fanciest little food court you'll ever see, but Wine Down is a decidedly laid-back event. It costs just 10 dizzos, and you can purchase discounted bottles of the 20 or so varieties offered, some of which ring in as low as $7.
The trickiest part of Wine Down is finding it; there's no signage walking into Foodlife, and because it's dinnertime, hordes of people gather for noshing, obstructing your views. (Don't be alarmed when you see the same folks staring you down while you sip vino in a small, open area just to the right of their dinner tables.) We finally found the Wine Down line and waited for a few minutes to enter. There was a definite lack of ebb and flow with the crowd, but that's true of most wine events, since people tend to wander and linger.
After we got in, we queued up for the tastings. I love wine, but I don't always love the pretense that comes with serious wine drinkers. Which is why I was less than pleased when, while I was distracting talking to my friend, one of the pouring ladies haughtily snatched my glass to empty the last quarter-ounce of sauvignon blanc, so it wouldn't taint the taste of her wine.
It just seemed silly, considering we were at a $10 wine tasting—that was being held in a mall. (There's a Chico's on the third floor. This isn't France.)
But really, most of the servers were very nice and eager to talk about their wines. As a bonus, those of us who forgot which brand of wine we enjoyed (for me, it only took about four seconds after finishing each delightful, tasty glass), Foodlife had created a list of the wines being offered.
My friend loved the list. She studied, referenced and marked on that bad boy like it was an SAT scantron sheet. Within 30 minutes, it was covered with smiley faces next to her favored varieties and giant, angry "X"s next to the less-than-delish ones.
My list, on the other hand, stayed comment-free; I was still trying to figure out how to balance my wine glass, purse, list and napkin. (I can only imagine adding a coat next month, which will require Cirque du Soleil-like stability.) It's not a good idea to leave your purse out of your sight, and I needed the napkin to balance bites of tasty eats on. For the price, I expected a giant cheese wheel and a spatula food-wise; however, the appetizer snack station had yummies, like stuffed mushrooms—or, at least, the remnants of stuffed mushrooms. I'd advise getting there early; just after 7 p.m., the hors d'oeuvres were getting seriously sparse and weren't being replenished.
Luckily, plenty of tiny cheese bites remained. The salty and tart snacks paired well with the wine, and the dessert table at the other end of the space put forth a noble effort, with tiny carrot cake slices and something chocolaty. I could've grazed all night.
But, alas, we'd sampled all the wine we had wanted to, and the space was getting almost uncomfortably cramped. Tourists sat staring, confused, as they ate macaroni and cheese and giant pizza slices four feet away.
So we rolled out and over to the bus stop—and hoped that, unlike Foodlife's wine tasting, the CTA wasn't down. Because don't we still have a month before that happens?
The next Wine Down is Nov. 2 at Foodlife from 6 to 8 p.m. You don't need a reservation but call (312) 335-3663 with any questions.
Erin Brereton is our resident urban cowgirl on a bi-weekly search for life on the cheap. If you know of the mythic happy hour that she missed, do clue her in.