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There's An Exciting New Wine Series In The West Loop

By John Lenart in Food on Jan 12, 2016 3:30PM

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Steve Morgan Photo Credit: Galdones Photography

There are a lot of great things about the Chicago wine community. Awesome people, the ability to buy sometimes hard-to-find wines, and, in general, fair restaurant wine pricing. But there is also room for improvement. I've said for a long time that Chicago needs more regular wine promotions. I'm not talking about “Half off bottles of wine on Monday!” or “$5 pinot grigio Tuesdays!” I mean promotions that are about interesting wines at consumer-friendly prices. Sure there are a few great regularly occurring wine events around town; Table, Donkey and Stick's "Terroir Tuesdays" and Acanto's "Three Liter Thursdays," for example, but the list sort of ends right there.

As a consumer I want to have the chance to get out taste some new, rare or intriguing wines, learn about them and not have it cost me hundreds of dollars.

Well, Chicagoist has been given an exclusive first look at what will be a great addition to Chicago's list of exciting wine events.

Formento's has announced a quarterly wine event with its “Sips & Tips with Wine Director, Steve Morgan”. In each one hour class, guests will taste and explore six different wines in a sit-down format. As an added bonus, during each class Morgan will be joined by a special guest sommelier to add to the information and fun.

When asked where the inspiration for this series came from, Morgan explains, “This summer I ran a seminar at the Finger Lakes Wine Symposium on Cool Climate Reds and watched Master Sommelier Christopher Bates lead a seminar right after me at that same event on sparkling wines. The seminars were fun and part of that was because myself, Chris and Master Sommelier Pascaline Lepeltier were in the room feeding off of each other giving both information and making the environment more light and fun. So I thought about how cool that would be to have that planned in an event. To have two somms feed off of each other and have that be part of the entertainment.”

Classes will appeal to aficionados as well as novices. “The first seminar is with Belinda Chang, who was an educator for Moet Chandon, and she and I will make sure that any guest who comes in leaves with a deeper understanding of the champagne method. For chardonnay, the guest will taste the many different shades of chardonnay. This means the guest will leave understanding what chardonnay tastes like and how different it can be depending where it comes from and how it’s made,” says Morgan.

The dates, classes and guest somms, according to Formento's are:

Wednesday, Feb. 3 | Understanding Bubbles
Enjoy a conversation on sparkling wine and how different climates and varietals affect the final wine. This class will explore bubbles from Champagne, Italy, Spain, America and more! Steve will be joined by James Beard Award winning sommelier and wine director of Maple & Ash, Belinda Chang.

Wednesday, April 27 | A Focus on Chardonnay
Chardonnay is much maligned and misunderstood. Some say "ABC," (anything but chardonnay), but don't understand that chardonnay can also be crisp, unoaked and acid driven like Chablis. In this class, students will enjoy and discuss examples from all over the world to show the rich spectrum of chardonnay. Guest somm TBD.

Wednesday, July 27 | The Reds of Summer
Red wine for the warmer months is more than just pinot noir. Together with special guest, Ryan Arnold, Divisional Wine Director at Lettuce Entertain You, Steve will demonstrate how summer reds are great with grilled foods and even delicious chilled. You'll leave with a new appreciation on drinking red in the summer months.

Wednesday, Oct. 26 | Reds of Piedmont
During this class, Steve discusses how Piedmont offers more than just Barolo and Barbaresco. Learn how nebbiolo makes one of the world's greatest wines, too. Special guest, Rachael Lowe, Wine Director of Spiaggia and Cafe Spiaggia, will join Steve to have some fun.

Classes start at 6:30 p.m., and all take place at Formento's, 925 W. Randolph St. Seating is very limited. Tickets for the entire series can be purchased for $135. If available, individual classes will be released at a later date for $40 each. Tickets can be purchased here.

If you want to buy the whole series and can't make one or more of the events, don't worry: tickets are transferable to anyone over 21 years of age, just contact the restaurant.