One of the many things that I have come to realize about this business is that you never know everything and you continue to learn and experience new things. Well, this weekend was another new learning event, or should I say, new experience.
Now I've been to A LOT of wine tastings in my day. That's how I got hooked on wines in the first place. So many different wines all in one place for me to try and determine which ones I like best or why I might like one wine over another. Wines from all over the world, each touting their specific terroir or their uniqueness in the wine world. As I've said, I have been to many wine tastings, and even today, they draw me in as if to say "come by, you might just find your next great wine." Okay, they don't actually talk to me, but in the back of my mind, I know that there may be indeed that next great "have to have" wine.
Since I'm writing about a tasting you're probably thinking I found that "have to have" wine. Alas, I did not. Not to say I didn't find some nice wines and at some of the best prices around, but what really made this tasting so unique was the manner in which it takes place. To start, it was held in a pretty good size room, the equivalent to a small warehouse. The wines were stacked around the perimeter, and I do mean stacked. There was a (insert your favorite adjective for a s_ _t load) of wine. Not a reference to the wine itself mind you.
They had all sorts of wines from almost every country. Reds, whites rosés and some sparklers. All of them priced with discounts ranging up to 60%, or more in some cases. This was billed as their warehouse sale and it actually ran for two days. Now I know of other sales that run for 2 days, but here is where it gets much more interesting. The tasting ran for the entire two days as well. That's right, two days. Not a couple hours each day but during the entire event!
When I was told this, I thought about tastings that I have done and had to ask myself, self "how do you get wine reps to pour from 9 AM to 7 PM on Friday and again on Saturday from 9 AM to 5 PM?" Well, I can now tell you, they don't.
Here is the part that was newly learned. This was a "self serve" tastings. Yep, all around on the wine cases was a horde of those little plastic cups. You grab one, actually I learned to grab a couple so when I decided I needed to change I didn't have to struggle to get another cup (I learn quick), and then start walking around. Each wine had an open bottle in the case and you just help yourself. Move on and repeat. About the only thing you don't get is a little dialogue about the wine from that non-existent wine rep. They had that covered in their own way though. Above all the wines there was a banner with the wine name, price and a little info about it. Short but sweet.
Fun event? You bet! With folks rubbing shoulders you just had to get into conversations about the wines (hence the Close Encounters). Sharing which ones we liked and why with those around us, and they doing the same. Successful? I'm going to say yes. Shopping carts full of wine being rolled to the registers. It has been a long time since I've seen that much wine being sold during the hours we were there, let alone how much was sold over both days.
Am I going back? Of course. Only next time I'm going on the first day. There were a couple wines that sold out even before Saturday so I want a chance to scoop them up. Besides, what's more fun than sharing the wines we love with other like minded people, and in such "Close Encounters?"
In case you're interested, this event was held at Schaefer's in Skokie. Click here to visit their Website.