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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Thursday, February 22

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Wine Mon Jul 29 2013

A Night of Wines from the Pacific Northwest

20130725_185505_1.jpgI first took wine classes with Diana Hamann of Evanston's The Wine Goddess at The Chopping Block before she opened her own shop. I was predisposed to liking her classes since I really wanted to learn about wine, from how to assess it properly to how climate and weather impact the grapes.

But she far exceeded my expectations by taking what can turn into a dry, complicated topic and making it fun with her sense of humor and clear passion and knowledge of the subject. Hamann made you not only want to drink more, but encouraged you to ask questions and consider what was happening in your glass. With this in mind, I eagerly signed up for her "Wines of the Pacific Northwest" class.

Seventeen students filled in two long tables in the warm, brightly-colored space. Some of my favorite snacks dotted the tables: cheese, chocolate and a bowl of truffle salt popcorn, plus marcona almonds and charcuterie.

I was disappointed at first that Hamann wasn't leading the class herself, but it quickly became clear that she picked a fabulous substitute in Christophe Baukunas, proprietor of Local Wine & Spirits.

He was a bit of a tease at first. The class had this tantalizing Oregon Pinot Noir sitting in front of us as he explained the unique growing conditions in the Pacific Northwest (thank you Missoula Floods!) and how the weather and soil find their way into the glass. All geeky stuff I wanted to know, but I was also eager to just start the tasting. But that's what he was aiming to help us do, as well as just helping us appreciate these wines and what makes those from Oregon and Washington stand out from Napa or anywhere else.

We tasted seven total (four red, three white). The class enjoyed the smooth, berry-rich Merlot, and we were surprised and delighted with a dry Riesling, as opposed to the more familiar sweeter style. Unusually, we tasted the reds first so for fun, I let the Syrah linger in my glass as we tasted the whites before going back to it. Even in the 15-20 minutes of resting, the flavors evolved and the tannins smoothed out, leaving a sensation of velvety brown sugar on the palate (rightly "wackadoodle"). Damn, were these wines ever delicious.

The class ran over the scheduled 90 minutes without anyone really noticing. Some of us lingered in the shop to buy or talk to Christophe. Much like the Wine Goddess herself, he was an opinionated, well-spoken, friendly guy who wanted to help you enjoy wine to the fullest.

Check out The Wine Goddess's schedule for upcoming classes and more information about weekly $5 tastings, plus excellent incentives to work out, like Wine & Yoga (August 20th, 7-8 pm, $20).

702 Main St., Evanston
Phone (847) 475-9463

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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