How exciting to share my passion for wine and love of teaching to the incredible customers of Bin 36! Located in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood, this restaurant / wine bar is a true gem. Owner Enoch Shully has a gift for selecting unique, exceptional wines for his wine list and wine flights. It is an honor to work with him!
October’s class was devoted to pairing wine with vegetarian and vegan cuisine. As I am an omnivore (with greater carnivore preferences), this was really an eye-opening experience. The best way to sum up what I took from my research was that it isn’t really about the vegetables and grains so much as it is in the cooking methods, spices, seasonings, heat, sweetness level, and predominance of a “main” ingredient of the dishes. The class consisted of mixed couples- vegetarian/vegan with meat eating spouses. Our food pairings were spot on with the wines. Here was our menu for the evening.
We began with one of my personal favorite blends- Ugni Blanc, Colombard, and Gros Manseng from Domaine de Pellehaut, Côtes de Gascogne 2015. Stainless steel fermentation helps retain the tropical fruitiness and bright acidity. We picked up some minor herbaceous notes, making this the ideal partner for the roasted cauliflower steaks with white bean purée. Next up, an outstanding Verdicchio from Casalfarneto, Fontevecchia Classico Superiore 2013 from La Marche, Italy. Racy, lemon-lime, cut grass notes with great minerality. The wine is fermented in small clay vessels to concentrate the fruit…a unique method that produced a heavenly wine! Brussels sprouts, superbly roasted, with a creamy caper dressing complimented the Verdicchio to a “T”!
Spectacular reds from Bulgaria and Spain then followed. What finds! The third wine I presented to the class was a reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from Trakia Manastira Wine Cellars in southern Bulgaria. This beauty spent 4 months in stainless steel, then another 12 months in new, untoasted, French oak…something I had never personally tasted in my red wine adventures. Red berries and a bit of vanilla on the palate, with soft tannins that worked wonderfully with the spiced carrots Chef Shane served to my guests. The group appreciated this Cabernet and expressed interest in trying more Bulgarian wines. Lastly, we headed to the region of Almansa, Spain for a Garnacha/Monastrell red blend…Bodegas Atalaya’s Laya was a delicious end to our class! Plump, round, earthy, with good minerality, hints of smoke…enthusiastically enjoyed with a wild mushroom farrato…divine! The best part of the class were the comments from the “non-white wine” drinkers who loved the whites and from the meat eaters stating they could definitely see how the dishes, as they were prepared, could satisfy them without any proteins included. They seemed eager to take what they learned and apply it to future meals prepared together.
Lovely people, a beautiful evening…cheers!