To many, the second Wednesday of each month is just a halfway point. But to the wine connoisseur (or the wine connoisseur wanna be), it also offers the opportunity to try a number of reds, whites and wines somewhere in between.
Well hello, Hump day! I'm always up for a glass (or, in this case, an eighth of a glass) of wine. Determined to taste my face off, I headed over to the Bin 36 Second Wednesday Tasting, featuring spring wines that match well with lighter fare.
Held from 6 to 8 p.m., the event also featured light appetizers like breads and cheese...and a lot of wine fans. Arriving shortly after six, my friend and I found long lines at each tasting table and hardly any space to move around the upstairs room. We also found a lack of clean wine glasses, temporarily, which wouldn't have been such a disaster had we also found wine servers willing to pour directly into our mouths. But apparently that's gauche.
Space issues aside, the amount of wine you can taste, if you're spry, around 10 or so varieties, and the information you can cull from the wine distributors who are serving is a deal for the $25 entrance fee. Like Australian wines? Spanish reds? Northern California blends? Hey, the gang's all here!
I'm a white fan, so the first I tried was a dry white Chardonnay from France. It was excellent, as were most of the wines I tasted at the event. Some wine servers were warmer than others, eager to share their favorites and explain typical food matches, wine qualities and the like. Others were, like their wine, a bit more tart. (When I asked one man which of the two types he was serving was his favorite, he began angrily sputtering something about how they were both too unique to favor one over the other and promptly recoiled as if I'd asked him to eat a baby.)
But then again, we weren't throwing back Boone's in someone's basement, so I guess a little beverage elitism was to be expected. Part of Bin 36's goal at its monthly tastings, which began in early 2000 shortly after the restaurant opened, is to educate wine drinkers, as well as to allow them to experience new drinks, such as the oh-so-delicate Rose I sampled later in the evening (forever dispelling my theory that the only pink wines came packaged in boxes with handles.)
Each entrant gets a small booklet listing the distributors present, their wines and bottle prices, with space allotted for notes. Taste something you like and you can order it at a 10 percent discount from Bin 36; taste something you hate and just toss the rest in a cast-off bucket on the table. If only dating were this easy!
With the maneuvering around the crowds and the thoughtful pauses everyone takes after each sip, the evening flew by. By 8 p.m., after consuming a cumulative half-glass of wine, I was ready to roll.
Was I drunk? No. Informed? Yes. So I patted myself on the back for doing something educational. And went out and got a martini.
Want to check out a future Bin 36 Second Wednesday Wine Tasting? Call (312) 755-WINE or visit the Bin 36 Web site for more information.
Erin Brereton is our resident urban cowgirl on a bi-weekly search for life on the cheap.