Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Wine Goddess

The Chopping Block had a tent sale a couple Sundays ago. I got wind of it through Facebook, and it sounded fun. There would be a bunch of items on sale, some samples from their Big Green Egg grill, and a bunch of wines at 30% off. Jen and I made plans to stop by.

They were receiving their new season’s worth of wines, picked out by the Wine Goddess, Diana Hamann. To clear room, they were marking down last season’s and pouring samples.

It would be our fourth wine tasting of the weekend. Friday night, we went to the South Loop Wine Cellar; Saturday, we spent early afternoon at the Binny’s in Lincoln Park and late afternoon at Fine Wine Brokers. But we didn’t buy anything at those three, partly because nothing really blew us away, and partly because we really didn’t need any wine. There was plenty at home to crack open.

We made our way to the back patio at the Chopping Block, and something like twenty different wines were spread out on the bar. Hamann chatted wildly with everyone who stopped by. She handpicks each wine they sell, so she had a story and an opinion about every bottle.

She caught site of us and asked what we’d like to sample. We asked if it was okay if we ran the gamut.

“Bless you,” she said.

She told us that she’d go easy on the pours, so we could pace ourselves. And she did, for the first two bottles. Then she splashed away, giving us the same amount she was pouring for everyone else.

Jen and I have a hard time dumping wine. Even if it’s something we don’t particularly like, pouring it out seems tragic. Sometimes I will make a show of holding my cup upside-down over the cuspidor, but usually there are a couple tiny drops, so little liquid that I have to shake the cup.

So, we got tipsier and tipsier, in the middle of the sweltering afternoon.

That may have accounted for how deeply we fell in love with every wine we tasted. So many of them jumped out at us. We began to make mental notes of the ones we would buy. Someone grabbed the last two bottles of a rosé we had our eyes on. Taking a cue from that experience, we began hoarding a few bottles of our own.

At some point, we noticed a sign on the bar that said we’d get a free Chopping Block wine class if we bought a case. Well. At that point, it became clear that the only responsible thing to do would be to buy twelve bottles.

I think there were only a couple of repeats. We slipped them all into a cardboard box (except for one fat bottle that wouldn’t fit between the partitions). We weren’t in a position to lug them home then and there, so Jen had to return a couple days later with her sister’s truck.

We literally ran out of room in the wine refrigerator. That has never happened before.

The wine class we selected was “The ‘Nose’ of Wine,” which met on September 3, a couple nights ago. Diana Hamann taught it. When Jen and I showed up, she recognized us.

So, we bought more wine than we intended, we helped them clear out old inventory, and we bought a second class to go with the free one so we could both attend.

I guess we showed them.

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