Tuesday I attended a wine and liquor show at Navy Pier, mainly to re-establish contact with liquor company marketing reps I had met over the past year, planting seeds for doing some partnerships at work next year. It was an such an expansive show that I could not adequately hit all the wine tables during the show's four-hour time frame. Still, after spending the first ninety minutes accomplishing my main objective, I tore into the wine tables with a vengeance.
The wine companies alone took up the entire grand ballroom, while the spirits companies had their own separate roomoutside the ballroom. There was a noticeable difference in atmosphere between the two rooms. The wine exhibition was more elegant and subdued. A jazz combo played safe selections in the background as vendors peppered customers with discussions of their respective wine's characteristics that fell somewhere between poetry and pretension:
"You'll notice that this wine is made from the Italian insolia grape, which is a clean tasting, well-rounded grape with a subtle finish like the end of a peaceful dream."
This went on at every table. Customers were handed a notebook containing the list of wine vendors, their selections, and a notes section to jot down a particular wine's favorable characteristics. I was only able to hit a fraction of the over one hundred tables present in the time I had, but I gave it the standard college try. Within minutes of finishing my business I had settled into a routine of wine inspection that followed the "lather, rinse, repeat" method- inspect color and legs, check nose, sample palate, spit and savor finish, repeat. By the time I left Navy Pier my mouth felt like I licked an acre of heavy shag carpet, but I felt like I had visited and been kicked out of Eden.
Contrast that to the spirits room, where the atmosphere was one of arrested development. House music blaring in the background, I felt like I was trapped in a neverland of hot waitresses and club drugs:
"If you mix a splash of ornage juice in this you won't even know you're drinking tequila!! Hee hee!"
The spirit distributors were forcing the mix of sex and liquor down our throats, emphasizing that if Absolut Raspberri was prominently displayed at a bar it would make you virile, popular, and rich. Jameson's and ginger ale was being toted about as an aphrodisiac, and the skirt on the trade show model carting around Bushmill's Irish Cream seemed to get shorter as the day progressed.
I made my way home around seven that night with some takeout from Gio's on 28th and Lowe. It was Chicken Marsala. This time I savored the wine.