Recently, I received a postcard from Wine Enthusiast alerting me to their upcoming event at the Field Museum: Toast of the Town. They sponsor the event in three cities: New York, Chicago and Washington, DC. Chicago’s the second stop on the tour and while we don’t get as many wineries/distributors as New York we have way more restaurants attending. DC brings up the rear in both categories. Since Cheryl and I went to last year’s event at the Field Museum the arrival of Wine Enthusiast’s piece of direct mail caused a bit of excitement. We like tasting events (see my earlier post on Binny’s Whisky Tasting) so I am happy to say we’re going back to this event!
This is a really fun event if you like wine and food. It’s being held on Friday, June 8 from 7pm to 10pm for general entry ticket holders. If you upgrade to the VIP ticket you’re able to enter at 6pm and get to drink some “special” wines with less crowd but I don’t think that’s really necessary. The wineries were happy to give us a taste of whatever they had open. I also don’t think the extra hour is worth $50 more. Believe me, 3 hours is plenty of time to walk around sampling the food and wine. Early Bird pricing (up to June 1, so you’ve got a week) for general entry is $99. It jumps to $109 if you wait too long (VIP jumps to a ridiculous $169). Having been to this event I can say it’s totally worth it.
According to the program they’ve posted it looks like they’ve added a whole new level compared to last year’s event: wines of Argentina on the lower level. So if you go you’ll get to spend 3 hours walking around the main hall of the Field Museum, upstairs, and downstairs, eating some really good food from local restaurants and drinking a lot of wine. The beauty of having this event in such a huge space is it never feels very crowded. There are lots of people around but from what I can remember (which due to all the wine we drank is fuzzy) it was fairly easy to get to tables and pick up food and wine. Sure, some of the more popular tables will have a small crowd but you just move on to a less crowded one and come back a little later.
A few pointers if you decide to go.
- Take the el. Get off at Roosevelt and walk over to the museum campus. You know parking sucks down there so why pay a ridiculous amount for it? Besides, you won’t be in any condition to drive afterwards, so take that parking money and pay for the cab home.
- Get there ahead of time. Last year we arrived around 6:30 for the 7pm general admission entry time. There was just a handful of people at the entrance when we arrived but a line formed soon thereafter.
- Do take some notes. Trust me; you’ll want to remember what your favorites were for when you go to Binny’s.
- At the start of your evening focus on the wines you like. It’ll be easier to rate the wines you might want to buy this way. Last year we started out by looking for only Pinot Noir and Cabernet, our favorites. So pick your favorite and sample it early.
- Hit the water station! Do I need to tell you why? It’s good to take a break, review where you’ve been, and pick where else you want to go.
- Eat the food. Again, do I need to tell you why? There are some really good restaurants serving up some delicious food here, but they will run out eventually! Make sure you get your food within the first couple hours. From what I can recall the more popular restaurants seemed to be packing up/out of food with about 45 minutes to go.
- Be careful at the end, the wine guys will be giving away huge pours when it gets close to 10 o’clock since they want to finish off any bottles they have open. Good time for that one last (huge) glass but dangerous too! The last 15 minutes is why you want that cab ride home. Grab some water from the big tub and go hail one to get home safely.
Hopefully these tips will help if you decide to go. It’s worth it, we really were stuffed at the end of the evening. You definitely get your fill and we didn’t feel cheated or that we didn’t get our money’s worth. Cheryl and I are really looking forward to another fun night of food and wine, and it’s a good way to start off the summer in Chicago. Get your tix and see you there!