As of January 1, 2016, Gapers Block has ceased publication. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Book Tue Dec 08 2015

Foodie Fiction: David Baker's "Vintage"

vintage-david-baker.jpgAs of these past few weeks, window panes across the city of Chicago have begun to fog up and armchairs, left largely unoccupied during our lengthy summer, have begun to beckon once more. To me, winter months mean catching up on reading: more time spent on buses and trains (I'm quite the fair-weather bike commuter), less time going out as a form of entertainment.

Luckily, I can turn to David Baker's debut novel,
Vintage
, to satisfy my taste for adventure without the need to put on five additional layers of clothing. Sweepingly cinematic in scope, the story begins at a tucked-away restaurant in modern-day Chicago and whisks readers through French winemaking county, a rambling train through Alsace, musty German war archives and a Moscow prison. The objective: track down a long-lost war vintage, a wine lost to the Nazis during World War II that many had believed to be lost to history (or simply a myth).

Continue reading this entry »

Danielle Snow

Wine Mon Sep 15 2014

Rioja 101: A Tasting

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The last wine at Table #5 was breathing in a glass decanter, one of those that looks like a genie bottle, but with a much wider and flatter bowl. The wine rep gave it a gentle swirl, sloshing the black-plum liquid before pouring a tasting.

"Ooooh," I said because I'm easily excited. I had only just begun the night's Rioja tasting, that famed Tempranillo-producing region in Spain, and the Maetierra Dominum QP Vintage 2006 was a great way to start. The wine was dark and rich and full. I really wanted something warm and hearty to eat with it.

"How long could you cellar this?" I asked.

He consulted another gentleman behind the table who explained, "Maybe 7-10 years. But it's not really necessary to cellar because you can drink the wine now."

It was true. The wine did not make my face shrivel up or suck all the moisture out of my mouth. Rioja is unique in that the winemakers do all they aging work for you by keeping their wines safely stored in a temperature-consistent cellar and releasing them only when they're ready to drink. Scads of other producers ship wines off to market even if they're too big and tannic and require time to smooth out the rough edges.

Rioja 101

rsz_686px-localizacipctc3pctb3n_de_la_riojasvg.pngLocated in north-central Spain, southeast of Bilbao, Rioja produces white, red, and rose (rosado). For reds, Garnacha (Grenache), Graciano, Mazuelo, Matura Tinta, and of course, Tempranillo, are cultivated. For whites, there's Viura, Malvasia, and Tempranillo Blanco. There were 13 total tables at the Rioja 101 tasting, hosted by Homestead on the Roof. Most tables had a minimum of four wines and with 58 total available, the breadth and diversity of the region was represented.

Continue reading this entry »

Christina Brandon

Wine Mon Sep 08 2014

Wine Tastings Around Town

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A two-week long event for wine lovers is coming to Chicago. Organized by Bottlenotes, Taste Around Town runs September 15-28 and features wines from Wines of France, Napa Valley's Chateau Montelena, and Australia's purveyor of bold, rich Shiraz, Penfolds. Participating restaurants, including Bistrot Zinc, Gilt Bar, and Roka Akor, are preparing select pairing menus and tasting flights and some locations, including Hub 51 and Summer House, are curating by-the-glass lists.

A launch party, hosted by Hub 51 (51 W Hubbard), kicks off the festivities on Wednesday, September 10 at 6:00 p.m. Wine-lovers can rub elbows while enjoying tastings of the featured wines and bites such as king crab California rolls, braised chicken mini-tacos, prime chuck and sirloin sliders with white cheddar, and beer-battered fish-and-chips. Tickets are $50, but Gapers Block readers get discounted tickets for $25, which can be accessed here.

Taste Around Town launch party
Hub 51
51 W Hubbard
312.828.0051

Photo via JolienS

Christina Brandon

Wine Tue Jun 24 2014

Four Summer White Wines For Your Next Dinner Party

Sidewalk patios, strawberries and caprese salads are all things in the culinary spectrum that suggest summer has finally arrived, which is usually when the white wine comes back for an appearance. Outside of the usual prosecco and sangria, here are four reasonably priced whites to remind you that there's a world of wine outside of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio.

Can Feixes Blanc Selecció Parellada Blend 2012 Can Feixes Blanc Selecció Parellada Blend.jpg

Grape: Blend of parellada and macabeo, commonly seen in Cava, chardonnay and an unusual grape called malvasía de sitges.
Tasting notes: Light minerality with pear, honeysuckle and white pepper
BYOB pairing: Thai
Make it yourself idea: Shrimp skewers with pineapple, vidalia onion and basil
Find it at: Vin Chicago, Binny's Lincoln Park, Whole Foods (Gold Coast/Kingsbury), $12-$17

Sigalas Assyrtiko Athiri Santorini 2013 Sigalas Assyrtiko Athiri Santorini 2013.png

Grape: Blend of assyrtiko and athiri
Tasting notes: lime, grapefruit and high acid
BYOB pairing: Mediterranean/Italian
Make it yourself idea: Olive oil, prosciutto and pear flatbread
Find it at: Binny's Beverage Depot, Skokie, $15.99

Cave De Lugny Les Charmes Mâcon-Lugny Chardonnay 2010 Cave De Lugny Les Charmes Mâcon-Lugny Chardonnay 2010.png

Grape: 100% Chardonnay
Tasting notes: steel aging gets rid of the traditional butter note, hints of apricot/stone fruit and citrus
BYOB pairing: Tapas
Make it yourself idea: Mussels linguine in a sherry sauce
Find it at: Vin De Garde Wine Merchant, $14

Martín Códax Albarino 2012 Martín Códax Albarino 2012.jpg

Grape: Albarino
Tasting notes: pear and apple balanced with stone fruit; high acid
BYOB pairing: Sushi
Make it yourself idea: Salt crusted red snapper
Find it at: Binny's Beverage Depot, Whole Foods (Kingsbury), $15

Brandy Gonsoulin

Wine Tue Apr 29 2014

Wine Riot Returns May 2-3

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The coolest-sounding wine event returns to Chicago this weekend, May 2-3. Wine Riot, whose mission is to encourage more people to drink wine by celebrating it and educating them in the most non-snooty way possible, will gather wine producers and 250 wines at Union Station's Great Hall for three four-hour riots on Friday and Saturday.

You can sample wines from around the world (and keep track of those wines on Wine Riot's app), swing by the Bubbly Bar to learn about the numerous styles of sparkling wines, take Wine 101 to learn wine-tasting terms and a 20-minute Crash Course on a specific topic, such as wines from Portugal. Plus, there's a photo booth, temporary tattoos, and a DJ throughout the event. Can't make it this weekend? The Riot will return October 17-18. Tickets for each four-hour riot are $60. Sessions are Friday and Saturday, from 7 p.m.-11 p.m., and Saturday from 1 p.m.-5 p.m.

Riesling fans, mark your calendars for Riesling Riot on June 14.

Christina Brandon

Restaurant Tue Jan 21 2014

Wine and Cocktail Bars Joining Chicago Restaurant Week

rsz_1rsz_20130107-235968-chicago-restaurant-week-picks2.jpg Chicago Restaurant Week launches Friday and for two weeks, nearly 300 restaurants in the Chicago-area will be serving prix-fixe lunch or dinner menus for a mere $22 for lunch or $33 or $44 for dinner. How's a girl to choose?

Of course, there's the big guys like Blackbird and Carriage House and Embeya and Nightwood and Sepia and on and on. But tucked in this gargantuan list are a handful of (mostly) smaller affairs and wine bars, spots where I've grabbed a cocktail or two or a glass of wine with some friends afterwork. Though Restaurant Week is the perfect opportunity to check out a restaurant I've been meaning to get to, at a more reasonable price, it's also a chance to explore more of the cuisine served at a place I mostly just drink, a place I know I already like. Again, how's a girl to choose?

Continue reading this entry »

Christina Brandon

Wine Fri Nov 01 2013

Celebrate Champagne

champagne day.jpgTuesday, October 29th was Champagne Day, and I celebrated the perfect way: by tasting a bunch of French bubbly. Champagne Bureau USA gathered 36 Champagne houses with 108 different wines, all from that famed region in France at The Ivy Room, for a huge, extraordinary tasting.

I (mostly) systematically went from table to table, making it about two-thirds the way through before I was worn out. 72 was a lot of different bubbly to taste, and I didn't actually drink most of it. I spit much of it into a very shiny silver bucket, which was a weird thing to do when a posh Frenchman or woman was standing opposite you. It was either that, or get wasted before trying even a quarter of the wines.

Champagne is a wine of celebrations and special occasions to be sure, since what's more fun than bubbles at a party, but it also loves food. In fact, "This is a great food wine" was a sentence I heard a lot throughout the tasting. The representative from Besserat de Bellefon suggested asparagus as the perfect food pairing for their NV Brut. One of my favorites, Piper-Heidsieck Rosé Sauvage had a bit of sweetness and spice to it that would make it a great companion for Asian cuisine.

Many wines had toasty aromas; some skewed toward the full-bodied and creamy end of the spectrum, some were more light-bodied and steely but it was easy to picture cheeses to pair, a pastry with a flaky crust, and fried and greasy foods in particular as Champagne's high acidity and bubbles help cut through the fat. Olivia Pope might like a rich Bordeaux with her popcorn, but I prefer a refreshing, crisp sparkler with such a light buttery snack.

Another favorite, Comte Audoin de Dampierre Grande Cuvée Brut NV struck me with it's croissant and fresh lemon aromas, much like a lemon tart, and Thiénot Cuvée Garance 2006, made completely from Pinot Noir, had a wonderfully delicate, fruit-forward perfume with citrus and melon.

What is Champagne, anyway?

Champagne comes from a specific region in France that's east of Paris, and it's usually, though not always, made from a combination of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. Officially, only wines made there can carry "Champagne" on the label, though there are plenty of producers worldwide who make sparkling wines using the same method, the traditional method (méthode traditionnelle).

Basically, this means the secondary fermentation that creates the bubbles occurs in each bottle, as opposed to collectively in a tank prior to bottling, like with Prosecco. The traditional method is more time-consuming, which is largely why Champagne carries a higher price tag than your average bottle of wine.

Often that bottle of bubbly in the fridge was made from grapes harvested in different years because a Champagne house wants to create a specific house style that tastes and smells the same, regardless of the year is was bottled. They can do this by keeping reserve wine and blending different years together. (One rep I spoke with said his house had reserve wine dating back to 1919). These bottles won't have a date on them, or will state NV (non-vintage). A date will be on the bottle when the Champagne house declares a vintage.

A few more highlights:

Pascal Doquet Premier Cru Rosé NV: aromas of cherries and watermelon candy
Mandois Brut Zero: easy drinking and luxurious with a lot of bubbles
Bollinger La Grande Année 2004: mouth-puckering acidity with surprising notes of spice

photo via Caitlin Childs

Christina Brandon

Chicago Gourmet Mon Sep 30 2013

Wine Heaven @ Chicago Gourmet

mainlawnchicagogourmet.jpgFor me, Chicago Gourmet was all about drinks, mostly wine. With seminars on Bordeaux, Burgundy, and New Zealand plus a cocktail demonstration, plus the Grand Cru, I didn't see how I would have time to eat much at all.

I did eat, thankfully, arriving early enough that I enjoyed the Great Lawn of Millennium Park before the crowds swooped in. A volunteer suggested I start with the Supreme Lobster & Seafood Company Tasting Pavilion as that would get overrun first. I was thankful for his advice because with all these white tents with dozens upon dozens serving up food or wine, beer, and spirits, I hadn't a clue where to begin.

Continue reading this entry »

Christina Brandon / Comments (2)

Wine Mon Sep 23 2013

Celebrate the Grape Harvest

rsz_wine_country_niagara_on_the_lake_.jpgFall means many things to many people: scarves and tights, football, pumpkin everything, and, most importantly, the grape harvest. This is that magical time of the year when those lush, juicy berries are picked, crushed, and begin their transformation into wine.

Beginning as early as late summer for some grapes, the harvest is celebrated in wine regions all over the world, and it deserves it because all that time worrying about weather, about excessive rain or heat or hail in the vineyards, about pests and mold, shifts and the winemaker can get down to business. As Plato said, "No thing more excellent nor more valuable than wine was ever granted mankind by God."

Here's just five wine bars and restaurants where you can celebrate this excellent gift:

In honor of the crush (the gentle splitting of the grapes prior to fermentation) Frasca Pizzeria and Wine Bar and D.O.C. Wine Bar are offering free wine tastings September 23 - 27 (with guest sommeliers and exclusive varietals) plus half-price bottles of wine on today (September 23) and half-price glasses of wine on Tuesday, September 24.

Bar Pastoral currently has a selection of reds and whites from the Rheinhessen, including the velvety Weingut Wasem, a Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) that'll knock your socks off. Plus loads of cheese so go hungry.

Volo Restaurant and Wine Bar has a knowledgeable staff ready to help you navigate the menu based on your tastes. Or try a wine flight, which is how I discovered the aromatic oomph of the Müller-Thurgau grape. They have daily $1 oyster and $2 pork belly happy hour specials and a "hidden" patio.

Webster's Wine Bar has an atmosphere that encourages lingering for hours. Their extensive wine list includes personalized notes about each of the wines, which can be daunting if you're not sure what to order, so ask! They're currently featuring Spanish wines.

*photo by Graham

Christina Brandon

Store Thu Aug 01 2013

Independent Spirits Opens in Edgewater

20130727_154509_1.jpgIt's pained me that the closest thing to a wine shop walking distance from my apartment in Edgewater is the liquor section in Dominick's. There, you'll find the usual suspects you can find most anywhere: Columbia Crest, Lindeman's, Cupcake. I'm not knocking those wines because I can, and frequently do, grab a bottle while grocery shopping. But seeing the same labels all the time is boring and makes the huge and varied world of wine and spirits seem like it's owned by a handful of megabrands.

The drink gods heard my prayers. Earlier this summer, Independent Spirits, Inc. (5947-49 N. Broadway) opened. And it wasn't only me who wanted a neighborhood booze shop. I first stopped in two days after opening and already a bunch of wine had been sold, leaving only a scattering of bottles here and there, mostly of French and German wines, plus a mishmash of others, including Greece and Argentina. Proprietor Scott Crestodina assured that the shelves would be stocked next week.

And boy, were they, plus a new table of wine at the front of the store. Eyeballing all the wines I wanted to buy, prices were incredibly reasonable, with a significant portion under $20. And there wasn't one bottle of Cupcake amongst that red, white, and pink.

Continue reading this entry »

Christina Brandon

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.

Continue reading this entry »

Christina Brandon

Drink Wed Jul 03 2013

Summer Drinking Series: What To Drink With An Oyster?

Last week, I attended the launch of the Old 1871 at GT Fish & Oyster. While hardly local--the new exclusive oyster breed grows in the cold waters off southern Virginia, not lake Michigan (this is a good thing)--presenting distributor Fortune Fish and Gourmet is. The name derives from CEO Sean O'Scanllain's old family brewery, and is meant to hark back to the days of simple protein trade between the stockyards of Chicago and the seabeds of the Atlantic coast.

June, July, and August are not "R" months, but there is something wonderfully refreshing about slurping oysters in the summer. Briny and meaty, they're surf and turf in a single slippery bite, served ice cold or off the grill as soon as their shells pop from the heat. (It's not just me endorsing this idea--Bon Appétit brings it up in the latest issue as well). Old 1871 are a welcome addition to the kumamotos and wellfleets you may already know. Funky and rich, with a buried sweetness, they're deep-cupped, so you get a good slug of seawater with each. With all that salt, you need something to drink, of course. I asked Brooks Reitz from The Ordinary, Charleston South Carolina's buzzy seafood mecca, what he suggests to serve along with oysters.

Continue reading this entry »

Andie Cavedo

Wine Tue May 28 2013

A Dinner with Chicago Cooks & Michigan Pours

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For most meals, the booze has always been secondary to the entrée, but not for attendees who attend Chicago Cooks Michigan Pours dinners. Founded by three local food & wine enthusiasts, Chicago Cooks Michigan Pours is currently offering a series of Michigan wine-focused dinners, where the food menu is specifically designed to complement the alcohol, not the other way around. With nearly 103 wineries in the Michigan area (such as Leelanau, Old Mission and Lake Michigan Shore) and the fabulous foodie scene in Chicago, the founders of Chicago Cooks Michigan Pours decided to combine the best of both worlds by hosting a sequence of unique dinners highlighting award-winning wines.

DSC_1754.JPGI was fortunately enough to be invited to their very first dinner at Uncommon Ground, where we began the evening sipping on Chantal Tonight sparkling wine accompanied by seasonal appetizers, including minted pea soup and tempura asparagus. Guests mingled with one another and the featured winemakers on the Rooftop Farm (where little plots of radishes and lettuces were just sprouting) before heading downstairs to begin the feast. The first entrée of our three course dinner was a delectable roasted beet salad paired with Lake Michigan Shore Semi-dry Riesling from Fenn Valley Vineyards. The salad course was followed by a Mint Creek Lamb Tagine, served with a 2011 Black Star Farms Arcturos Pinot Noir. The final dessert trio ("Chocolate Spoon," Michigan cherries, and spiced truffles) was complemented by an old fashioned cocktail made with Chateau Chantal Cinq a Sept Grape Brandy.

DSC_1808.JPGNow I'm not a wine connoisseur, but the wines were purposely and carefully chosen to highlight the fresh flavors of each course. And if you couldn't taste the difference, at least you got cheat sheets of what you were supposed to taste. Guests were provided with lengthy descriptions of each of the featured wines, including the harvest date, aging potential, and potential pairings with food. After discovering that my pinot noir boasted "aromas of violets and plums followed by fruit forward flavors of dark cherries, currants, and complementary oak," I took another sip of my drink to test my taste buds. Alas, I couldn't distinguish each flavor component, but the overall taste seemed worthy of their accolades.

Ultimately, the wine and food wouldn't have tasted as spectacular without the company. The community-style arrangement of our meal created a comforting sense of camaraderie and as the wine poured, the conversations only got louder. With the rising interest in craft beer, DIY brews, and wine fanatics, I anticipate that wine-focused dinners will quickly gain in popularity.

Judy Wu

Wine Sun May 12 2013

Gapers Block's Top Picks From Wine Riot 2013

wine riot 2.jpgOver 24 booths set up shop at the Great Hall in Union Station last weekend for Wine Riot Chicago 2013, the "all access pass to hundreds of new wines," pouring one ounce portions of their best poison. Gapers Block "reluctantly" joined the crowd for an evening of sniffing, swirling and tasting.

Inevitably there was more tasting than swirling which somehow lent itself to a night that ended in late night salsa dancing with the "King of Mambo" and crashing college house parties. (What, didn't it say riot in the title?) Below are our top picks to add to your list. Most can be found or ordered at Binny's Lincoln Park (1720 N. Marcy Street).

Continue reading this entry »

Brandy Gonsoulin

Wine Wed May 01 2013

More Booze For Chicago: Wine Riot Returns

PicMonkey Collage.jpgThis could've been a story on why Chicago has a drinking problem, but I didn't want to add to the negativity that Rachel Shteir started. We don't need to add "alcoholic" to the list.

It was only last week that Chicago was indulging their whiskey side with Whiskey Fest that Wine Riot, the multi-city wine tasting event on steroids, returns to Union Station for more in all that is good and right in the world of fermented grapes.

Continue reading this entry »

Brandy Gonsoulin

Chef Thu Jun 07 2012

Check, Please! Farm to Table Festival

checkplease_farmtotable.pngChicago's restaurant review show "Check Please!" is hosting its first ever festival Sept. 2 at Southwest Michigan's Round Barn Winery. The fest will feature some of the city's best chefs, area farms and wineries. You could also make a weekend of it and check out the local St. Joseph's Farmers Market the day before. Tickets for the event range from $75 to $150; you can learn more about the festival at checkpleasefestivals.com.

Jennifer Wenger

Drink Tue May 15 2012

Taste Your Way around California, Spain, and France

Bottlenotes in collaboration with Cheeky Chicago is bringing its love for wine to Chicago this week and next with the Taste Around Town wine tasting event. This is your chance to turn networking into a wine lesson and try wines from different regions in either a flight or 3-course menu pairing. This year's regions are California, France, and Spain with featured wines from the Rhone Valley, Naked Grape, and the Rioja region. The event kicked off Monday and ends on May 25th. Check out the participating restaurants, which include Paris Club, Naha, deca, and Allium to name a few, and book your reservations on OpenTable.

Brandy Gonsoulin

Wine Tue Nov 01 2011

Tuesday Boozeday Anyone?

3F7FD_tuner_pageto.jpgDon't worry, I won't judge. Sometimes we all need a pick me up early in the week. Especially after the mayhem that is Halloween weekend. Well tonight, Green Grocer's Tuesday Boozeday series has the answer for you. From 5-7 p.m. you can stop by the store and not only sample the wines of Turner Pageot (from the Languedoc region in France - oh la la!), but you can also meet their head artisan winemaker. Talk about having your cake and eating it too! Both red and white varieties will be on hand for sampling (or, if you prefer, blanc et rouge). Tres bonne! Green Grocer is located at 1402 W. Grand Ave. (312) 624-9508.

Katie Johnson

Wine Thu May 05 2011

Around the World in 80 Sips returns (with a discount!)


Your opportunity to drink globally without leaving your back yard happens Friday, May 20th, at the MCA, as Bottlenotes hosts their 3rd annual Around the World in 80 Sips. Wines from heavy-hitters like France, Chile, Italy, and New Zealand will be available, as well as places you might not normally think of like Lebanon and other emerging wine regions. Artisanal cheeses, charcuterie (so hot right now), and other noshes will be available to balance out the vino.

It starts at 8pm and is $75 for regular and $125 for if-you're-feelin'-fancy VIP tickets, but lucky for you, GB readers get a $15 discount when you enter code GB15.
Tickets sold out early last year, so get clickin'.

--Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago IL 60611

Jen Bacher

Event Thu Dec 02 2010

Bartend For a Good Cause

Have you been dying to share your drink recipes with a wider audience? Think your Dirty Frenchman (wine and olive juice) or Yeast Infection (rum and milk)* needs to bless the gullets of other Chicagoans? Consider entering Prairie Fire's first-ever bartender contest, where you can submit your drinks and photos for a chance to guest-bartend at the restaurant. The only stipulation: you must use a local ingredient in the beverage. Upload your drinks to the Prairie Fire Facebook page between now and December 10.

The top two mixologists, chosen by the restaurant and cocktail master Adam Seger, will compete on December 14 for tips, which will be donated to hunger-fighting nonprofit Share Our Strength -- whoever earns the most will appear December 22 with Prairie Fire chefs and co-owners Sarah Stegner and George Bumbaris at a Green City Market demonstration.

*Thanks, Home Movies. I knew my obsessive watching of you would come in handy some day.

Ruthie Kott

Feature Wed Dec 01 2010

A Lifetime Full of Wine

small_team_shebnem.jpgShebnem Ince remembers the flavor profile of the first wine she ever tasted. She was nine years old, and her father, who worked in a Gold Coast wine shop, would bring home bottles from the store. In their Rogers Park home, Ince (pronounced IN-ja) remembers, there was a "huge, long hall, maybe 30 feet, and he just filled that hall with wine." Her father sat down with her at the dining-room table before dinner: "He was sitting at the head of the table, and I was to his left." He opened a bottle of 1978 Spring Mountain Vineyard Chardonnay. "I just remember," says Ince, "it had this kind of golden apple and pear flavor profile, with a lot of caramel, toasty caramel. It was oaked in French oak, but I didn't know it at the time."

Following her father's passion, Ince worked in his wine shop, Bragno World Wines, during high school and over the summers while at the University of Iowa, doing the daily bank deposit, cleaning, gift wrapping, and helping to carry cases. Her father, who was a singer in Turkey before coming to the States, had cultivated a huge collection to fill the half-city-block cellar underneath the store. "It was filled with bordeaux and barolo and barbaresco and burgundy," she says. "That's kind of where I cut my teeth."

Continue reading this entry »

Ruthie Kott / Comments (1)

Wine Thu Oct 14 2010

Devon Pinot Noir Dinner - Special Price for GB Readers

So I'm a pretty big fan of Devon Seafood Grill. Reasonably priced for its downtown location, their food is inventive (lobster tamale!) and consistently high-quality. An important point for a seafood joint nestled in the tight, land-locked embrace of the Midwest. Anyway, the folks at Devon are holding Pinot Noir event next week, and are offering three evenings of Pinot pairings dishes for a special $29 price for GB readers (actual Pinot pairings are an additional $18, so $47 for the whole kit and caboodle, as the Devon PR team clarified for us after this posting first went live). Call to make your reservation and be sure to mention the blog.

Pinot and poisson, you say?! The light-bodied red plays well with heavy sauces (a seafood standard -- drawn butter, anyone?) and its fruity sweetness complements the freshness of the fish. At Devon's event, the goods will include four Pinots (including, Benton Lane, which the event planners are particularly excited about, as it will be featured in Food & Wine Magazine's December issue) paired with such dishes as swordfish with butternut squash risotto, short-rib with pappardelle and a fig demi glace, a mushroom and goat cheese filled corn crepe, as well as beet salad and dessert dishes.

To try these four wines and entrees, get yourself over to Devon (and peep in the new Anthropologie storefront windows on your way...if you dare. They're getting shoes) next week, October 19, 20 and 21 anytime after 4pm. Remember to call ahead for the special GB price: 312.440.8660.

Devon Seafood Gill
39 E. Chicago Avenue

Andie Cavedo

Wine Tue May 04 2010

Bonny Doon "Tweet Tasting" at Morton's This Thursday

RandallGrahm_CD1.jpgThe James Beard Awards recently honored the nation's foodies (including several Chicagoans); now it's you're chance to meet one of the winners: Randall Grahm of Santa Cruz's Bonny Doon Vineyard is hosting a Tweet Tasting this Thursday evening at Morton's on Wacker (65 E. Wacker).

From 5:30pm to 7pm, guests will get a chance to try several wine and cheese pairings, and hear detailed descriptions of the wines from the celebrated vintner himself. Tickets are $30; if you're more interested in following the event than attending it, tweet will be tagged with "#mortons."

In addition to his Beard Award in the Beverage Cookbook category (for his book, "Been Doon So Long"), Grahm was inducted into the Vintner Hall of Fame this year.

312-201-0464 or email cm.mwk@mortons.com for tickets

Marissa Flaxbart

Resource Thu Aug 13 2009

Days of Wine and Codes

Wonder no more about which wine to serve with the gazpacho you just whipped up in your blender, or the (grass-fed) beef marinating in your refrigerator. Chicago-trained and Omaha-based Master Sommelier Jesse Becker has just launched a wine-pairing search engine and iPhone app.

The web site, which is easy to navigate using little illustrations of nearly every concievable food group, including offal, dark fish, light fish and legumes (sadly, no soup category), leads users through a series of questions about the heaviness of the food, the cooking method and cuisine. This generates a selection of wines to pair with your food, with the most "agreeable" matches in larger type. If there's a wine in the list of matches that's not familiar, you can click on the wine and get a description. For example, when I searched wines to match legumes cooked with Indian spices, one of my choices was Silvaner. WinetoMatch informed me that this is a white grape from Alsace and Germany's Franken region, and that it's usually dry, light and soft. Right Bank Bordeaux and Merlot were also good matches.

Becker and the algorithm aces at Consulting Merengue, a southern California software developer and web publisher, are already busy building updates (and perhaps a soup category). They acknowledge that wine-matching advice and charts already exist online. But theirs is the first attempt by a Master Sommelier to create such software. "Rather than developing an application which pairs a finite number of named dishes, such as Veal Parmesan or Bouillabaisse, we designed a robust software engine that pairs any conceivable dish," says Becker. The questions about weight and spiciness are the same ones sommeliers would consider when helping guests in a restaurant.

Lori Barrett

Event Tue Jun 23 2009

GB Discount for Bottlenotes' "Around the World in 80 Sips"

80sips2009.pngThis Friday, June 26, from 7pm to 10pm, Chicago-based Bottlenotes is hosting "Around the World in 80 Sips," an exploration of more than 80 wines from, as the name implies, all around the world, at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Ave.. It's an opportunity to try wines from less well-known regions like China and Lebanon alongside the more established wine spots. An assortment of artisanal cheeses and food from local restaurants will help soak up some of that wine.


Tickets are $50 in advance
, $75 at the door, but Gapers Block readers can get an exclusive $10 discount by using the code GAPERSBLOCK at checkout. Cheers!

Andrew Huff

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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...
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Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
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Editor: Robyn Nisi, rn@gapersblock.com
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