It’s that time of year again, outdoor wine festival season! The Windy City Wine Festival comes to town, Friday Sept 8th (5pm till 10pm) and Saturday Sept 9th (3pm to 8pm), in the middle of Grant Park on the lake front. As usual the fest goers have the northern 60% of Buckingham Fountain (if you’re not from Chicago, that’s the fountain in the opening credits of Married with Children reruns). It’s an outstanding location, boats bobbing in the harbor to the east, the grand old hotels on Michigan ave to the west, Millennium Park to the north and Buckingham Fountain to your immediate south. There may be no better place in the whole city of Chicago to enjoy a glass of wine. Just about dusk, little after 7:00, the light come on at the fountain and lights illuminate the tall building of downtown Chicago, a soft glow envelopes the festival grounds, it is truly a beautiful sight. This year there are 90+ wine booths, each one with at least 4 wines to offer (most have more), plus music, food, and a beer garden. Here are a few tips for first time Fest attendees:
- Drink water. Your body depletes the water in your system to metabolize alcohol. Of course your sampling responsibly, but your body don’t care, you will get dehydrated to some extent, so drink water.
- Lines for the wine booths. I am lucky enough to have attended 100s of tasting and the one constant is the booth with the most expensive wine will have the longest line. If your plan of attack is to hit the most expensive wines first, fine, it’s always good to have a plan. But there are 93 booths here, you really don’t want to spend all your time standing in line.
- For the first half of the Festival, any long lines for wine that are not expensive are probably people playing follow the leader. Somebody saw 9 folks in line and thought “they must know something” and got in line too. There are a lot of good wines at this festival, I looked at the line-up, the booths that have short lines will probably feature wine every bit as good as the booths with long lines.
- The 2nd half of the fest. This is when enough people have made the rounds and the crowd favorites have been identified. This is when a longer line may mean something. Me, I still would pick the shorter of the lines.
- This event is on ground that is nicely spread out and the tickets are reasonably priced, so there is a nice Chill atmosphere. I have been to events where the ticket price $150 to $250 a person and people are intent on getting there monies worth. If you are standing next to a table with 7 inches between you and the table someone will push in front and if they are not pushing in front they are thrusting their glass over you shoulder to get a pour. You would think the silly ticket prices would keep the riff raft out, but no it just brings the worst out in some folks. In my experience that does not happen at the Windy City Wine Festival, there are enough wines to choose from and enough beautiful space to drink them in.
The event usually sells out, so if you are thinking about going, don’t think too long.