The Blocking Chop

Translation: The Chopping Block. Except, after “tasting” seven bottles of wine, it became the Blocking Chop. For my birthday, R got us a wine tasting class at The Chopping Block called “The Wine Goddess Presents: Six White Wines You Should Know.” I had heard fantastic things about The Chopping Block’s cooking classes, but the idea of going wine tasting and actually learning how to pick wine in the future (instead of defaulting to Yellow Tail Chardonnay) was very exciting to me.

There are two locations in Chicago, one in the Merchandise Mart and one in Lincoln Square. Our class was at the Lincoln Square location at the bar-height chopping block table near the storefront. When we arrived – and were affixed with name tags and seated in front of a spread of goat cheese, crusty bread, meats and cheeses – The Wine Goddess (aka Diana Hamann) informed us that we would be tasting and learning about not six, but seven white wines that evening.

Surprisingly, I was able to absorb a decent amount of information as the evening went on. I took copious notes to make sure I would remember the differences between oaked and not oaked wine and the little-known facts about the Riesling grape. I also became an active participant in the discussion somewhere around glass number three and found I had opinions about everything we tasted! It should be noted that many people did not “down” all seven glasses of wine, but instead, simply and politely swished the fermented liquid around the “four corners of their mouths” as instructed and then poured out the rest. I opted to fully appreciate each glass.

In the end, I learned that Pinot Grigio isn’t always super-dry, that Riesling isn’t always super-sweet and that Chardonnay is the boring American’s wine of choice, simply because it seems to go with everything and no one knows any better. It was an all-around fantastic birthday present and I really enjoyed experiencing the effects of a truly great wine pairing.

If you’re in the Chicago area, I highly recommend taking a class. It’s a small, intimate setting that is as un-intimidating as you can get. If you’re not in the Chicago area, check out Recipe4Living’s guide to wine pairing and start your own tasting at home.

Note: The Wine Goddess is an adorably enthusiastic wine connoisseur whose casual demeanor put us at ease, yet allowed her expertise and knowledge of wine to shine through. However, she is currently out on maternity leave. She has arranged a Sommelier Series of classes featuring sommeliers from some of the most famous restaurants in Chicago. See The Chopping Block Calendar for details.

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