Spring brings an increase in the wine and spirits tastings throughout Chicago, and I have been to several memorable ones this past month. On March 19, I was honored to receive an invitation to “Austrian Samples and Swing” which took place at one of the swankilicious (if a little cramped) ballrooms at the Sofitel on Chestnut Street. Sponsored by the local Austrian Trade Commission, this tasting featured samples of the country’s finest breads, meats, beer, and of course, wine.
Usually I attend events like this most anticipating the wines, not considering that the food featured might actually enhance what I am drinking. I discovered a delectable combo of apple strudel from Austrian Bakery on Clark Street and Gruner Veltliner, the white grape most native to Austria. An apple or pineapple component was noticeable in these wines, but I also found a little beach sand in both the aroma and the palate that gave the strudel a little extra textural feel.
Austria also grows a black grape called Zweigelt not often grown outside the home country. The resulting wines are light in tannins and body, with cherry and cranberry as the typical flavors. Because the meats and cheeses featured were a little on the milder side, Zweigelt proved an attractive pairing.
Here’s a list of all the vendors featured at this tasting; most of them, fortunately, are local to our city:
– WeinBauer , white and red wines
– VinDivino , white and red wines
– Monika Caha Selections (Importer: Frederick Wildman & Sons), Grooner white wine
– Stawski Distributing , beers
– Koval Distillery , handcrafted schnapps
– Julius Meinl , coffee, tea, and pastries
– Landgarten , organic snacks, pumpkin seeds
– Austria’s Finest Naturally , pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil
– Austrian Bakery , artisanal breads, petit fours, apple strudel
Towards the end of the night, I was privileged to interview Niki Berlakovich, the Austrian Minister for Agriculture and Environment. Please click the link below for a listen.
And I hope you join me on April 28, for another tasting at the Sofitel, this one featuring European drinks of all kinds.