A Million Ways to Wine at the Chicago Gourmet Festival This Year!

The huge Food and Wine Festival in Chicago, in its 10th year, Chicago Gourmet presented by Bon Appétit magazine, just released their schedule for this year’s event and it looks fantastic! If you were looking for reasons to justify buying tickets, the schedule gives you plenty!

I am really excited about the weekend because there are many ways to wine at the festival and the Seminars in the Choral Room and the Spirits Seminars on the East Lawn look fantastic!!! I have always considered these the hidden wine and spirit gems of the event. But I have a suspicion that they are not so hidden anymore. The event has always featured the top chefs across the country and in Chicago but they feature the top wines and people of wine too!


For those looking for an ultra-premium, pure indulgence in collector wines and food, then the Grand Cru showcase is the way to go. The rooftop is wine and food heaven. You are tasting one-of-a-kind, collector wines with hefty price tags that you may find stocked on a yacht in Cannes or on the menu of a 5-star restaurant. The wines are poured by the somms of the top fine dining restaurants in Chicago and the country. It is row after row of incredble, grand cru level wines.

There are other ways to wine at the festival. You can walk the main runways and  sample the wines under the tents in the main field or you can sit in one of  the seminars in the choral room or spirit sessions on the East Lawn.  This year the seminars are packed with the top dogs of the wine industry, MS’s (Master Sommeliers), MW’s (Master of Wines), CWE (Certified Wine Educator) and the senior ones in each of the categories. It can be hard to tear yourself away from all the incredible food pavillons but the seminars are a wine event within the festival itself. Here is my post on last year’s seminars.

Chef C.J. Jacobsen’s offering from Ema restaurant last year

Sessions include between Saturday and Sunday, “Exploring Burgundy and the Whole Cru“, “A Blind Tasting Seminar Featuring Six World Class Bordeaux Blends“, “Rosé, It’s Here to Stay“, “Rediscovering Australia“, “2008 Vintage“, “Agave Spirits“, “The Power of The Punch“, “Beer Got Your Tongue“, “The Road to Being a Master Sommelier“,  “Chardonnay:  Here, There and Everywhere“, “Tuscany, the Soul of Italian Wine“, “Fortified Wine“, “Champagne and Caviar Dreams“, “Art of the Spritz“, “Not All Coffees Taste the Same“, “From Garden to Glass“, “Evolution of Chicago Dining“.

The topics are wide ranging and given by the most senior of senior wine experts from, for the most part Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits stellar team, like Fred Dame, MS who was featured in the movie Somm and Madeline Triffon from Plum Market, the first female MS in the United States. Phil Vettel in a recent issue of the Chicago Tribune described Fred Dame,Fred Dame, as entertaining a sommelier as exists in the world, leads a tasting of premier-cru Burgundies. Dame has a big following, so arrive early or risk being shut out; this guy could narrate a Kool-Aid tasting and people would show up” .

The topics are hot ones like agave which is huge in Chicago with the proliferation of mezcal bars, natural and organic wines like those featured at Bad Hunter, always beer and gourmet beer at that, France, Burgundy and Bordeaux, Rosé, which people always seem to have questions about, and the list goes on, did I mention Tuscany, or the Alpana Singh Champagne and Caviar session, the list goes on but that is the wine and spirits world which is huge and eclectic.

The presenters are all-stars across the board include besides Fred DameGuy Stout, MS, CWE, Eric Hemer, MS, Certified Wine Educator, Master of Wine, Peter Mark, Brian Bauer, CWE, CSS, Gillian Ballance, MS, DWS, Ira Norof, CSE, CWE, Serafin Alvarado, MS, Eric Entrikin, MS, Egor Polonskiy, Richard Betts, MS, Uli Martinez, Bobby “G” Gleason, Jared Rouben, Moody Tongue Brewmaster, Joseph Spellman, MS,  Robert Bigelow, MS, Alpana Singh, MS, Roger Landes, Kyle Davidson, Joshua Dusk-Peebles, Counter Culture Chicago Training Center, Josh Fossitt, Bad Hunter, Scott LoBianco, Broken Shaker, Donnie Madia, One Off Hospitality, Rob Katz, Boka Restaurant Group, Kevin Boehm, Boka Restaurant Group, Billy Dec, Rockit Ranch Productions.

Whether you are just curious, want to know a little more about rosés, chardonnays, Australia, love bubbles,  a wine student or a professional, these seminars are really fun and thoroughly entertaining and not to be missed. I suggest giving yourself some time in line because I think the word is out on these. Helpful hint, sometimes the end of day sessions are not as packed. Given the lineup no matter which one you get to, it will be a very fun time!!!! Cheers!!



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