Wine festivals peak public's interest in vino

September 22, 2008 8:26:11 AM PDT
The annual Winefest Chicago in the Northcenter neighborhood follows two other recent wine events in Naperville and Old Town. There are also a number of good wine bars that have opened recently where you can taste and learn about some interesting reds and whites.

Following the Naperville Winefest and the Wine Crush in Old Town, people are obviously interested in learning about great wine.

Webster's Wine Bar started the trend 14 years ago in the city. And now a handful of other wine entrepreneurs are setting up shop, eager to talk, pour and taste with fellow enthusiasts.

Finding a bar where they serve a glass of wine isn't that hard to find in Naperville. But at The Distinctive Cork - a year-old wine bar and restaurant - they can learn about new grapes by sampling from an extensive list.

"Sometimes people only say red or white, we try to get them - if they like a white - 'Do you like sweet, dry?' We kind of try to steer them to find out what they want," said Daniel Seltzer, The Distinctive Cork.

The kitchen also churns out heartier fare, such as pasta Bolognese, but it's the small bites and the spirit of sharing that Seltzer encourages.

"People come in and share a plate of food. They get to experience some wine with it. We do some pairings so that they can enjoy the wines and the food, but also by sharing a plate it's gonna force everybody to keep the interaction going," Seltzer said.

Downtown, the mood is more late night at the Juicy Wine Company, a cozy wine bar where small bites - such as exotic cheese and cured meats - pair wonderfully with wines that come from all over the world.

"I break it down to New World, Old World. Do you like it funky, or do you like it fun and easy? And then once we've established there, I just do light, medium to full-bodied; red or white, which is a simple question. Then we bring them a selection of something by the glass," said Rodney Alex, Juicy Wine Co.

Like any good wine program, Alex encourages sampling. He says one of the goals of a place like his is to open up new options for drinkers, and to get them out of the usual chardonnay or cabernet routine.

"I may bring them a taste of a couple different examples, then they give me their preference, and I guide them to something off of the list," said Alex.

Some other good wine bars in the suburbs include Wine and Vine in Elmhurst and A Taste of Vino in Western Springs, which just opened this week.

Distinctive Cork
192 W. Gartner, Naperville
630-200-5886

Juicy Wine Co.
694 N. Milwaukee Ave.
312-492-6620

A Taste of Vino
821 Burlington Ave., Western Springs
708-246-8668

Wine & Vine
105 S. York Rd., Elmhurst
630-832-9463

Webster's Wine Bar
1480 W. Webster Ave.
773-868-0608

Winefest Chicago
Sept. 19-21
3840 N. Lincoln Ave.
http://www.northcenterchamber.com/site/epage/51942_62.htm


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