Typically, this blog encourages already-experimental wine drinkers to develop an even greater spirit of adventure. As long as any resulting thrills aren’t punctuated by speechless shock at the final bill, all is well in this little parsimonious paradise.
And, while it’s fun to cajole a Merlot drinker into the Carmenère camp, or win a Pinot Grigio devotee over to Torrontés, a big sale or a free tasting can pique everyone’s interest (freeloaders, this means you) — no matter the grape varietal or region.
This weekend, while people nurse their mid-term election hangovers (read: detoxification from negative ads and the stubborn, remaining signs of one Scott Lee Cohen), places like downtown Chicago’s Fox & Obel Market, Lincoln Square’s Gene’s Sausage Shop and the ubiquitous Binny’s Beverage Depot will be conducting special events. Many will feature price breaks or other incentives. These are happenings that all loyal readers — and anybody who imbibes with gusto — will appreciate.
Fox & Obel will be offering 25 percent off cases of wine from Nov. 5-7, and this includes mixed cases. Plus, concurrent with this weekend’s sale, the store is offering free wine tastings on Friday Nov. 5, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, November 6 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sometimes, it’s a nice indulgence just to peruse interesting and edible merchandise at a leisurely (happily teetering), tasting-induced pace. Wine Director John Marangelli is adamant about his store’s value wine selection.
“Our shop has a variety of wines, including those that, while they are priced at less than $15 per bottle, have a lot of distinction,” says Marangelli. “These wines also have the versatility to pair with many foods.”
One value-priced and versatile red that’s appropriate for the approaching cold weather is the La Vieille Ferme Cotes du Ventoux Rouge. This southern French wine sells for $9, and is a blend of Grenache (mostly), Syrah and Carignan. “It’s perhaps the store’s most popular wine,” adds Marangelli.
On the city’s North Side, in the attractive Lincoln Square neighborhood, Gene’s Sausage Shop will be celebrating its 1-year anniversary (the shop’s historic location continues to thrive on Belmont Avenue). Between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., Nov. 5-7, Gene’s will be offering free mini brat, sausage and reuben sandwiches. And, although it’s known for a great selection of Polish-style meats and cheeses, the store has a strong wine & spirits department. Value wines are well represented; the La Vieille Ferme is also sold here, as is the compelling and versatile Zantho Zweigelt, from Austria.
As part of Gene’s anniversary festivities, there will be 2 for $10 wine specials, plus tastings, demos — and beer specials, too.
Binny’s is obviously a mainstay in the Chicago area. The tremendous volume offered at the chain’s 25 metro locations makes critics claim that their prices could be even lower. However, Binny’s can really haul in some heavy artillery for its events.
For example, the grand opening of a new Binny’s in southwest-suburban Bolingbrook will be celebrated with Bears legend Mike Ditka on Thursday, Nov. 4, from 5-8 p.m. The concept of hangovers was floated earlier, and the city still has one from the Bears’ victory in Super Bowl XX. So, keep the Kool-Aid… er, Kick Ass Red handy, as Ditka will be signing bottles of it and his other wine brands that night. (Author’s note: these are not value-priced wines.
An event more in line with the bang-for-the-buck mentality is being held at Binny’s Lakeview store from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., also on Nov. 4: The BYOB Basics Seminar. Hosted by Chicago author Jean Iversen, guests will learn about corkage fees, the wines that best suit the BYOB experience, and how to tip in BYOB restaurants that offer bottle service (hint: it’s more than you think). The admission price is $13.95.
Overall, the metro area Binny’s locations will be holding 10 drink-related events between now and Sunday, Nov. 7 — two of which include early holiday/Thanksgiving Open Houses.