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Inexpensive Bordeaux: An Oxymoron???


Bordeaux is one of the most prestigious wine growing regions in the world. It is tough finding that inexpensive gem from Bordeaux, mainly because they are not rated by major critics. Everyone thinks red when they think about Bordeaux. The white wines, including Sauternes are wines that should be explored as well. The dessert wines of Bordeaux are some of the most long lived wines produced, and the prices do not fluctuate heavily from vintage to vintage. Inexpensive Bordeaux should also be treated like an expensive Bordeaux.


The five main red varietals of Bordeaux are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. You Meritage fans should look at Bordeaux in your next visit to Binny’s. There is only one way to find a good inexpensive Bordeaux. Taste. With any young red Bordeaux, the wine will need air. My first experience with Bordeaux was terrible, then great because I revisited a wine 12 hours later. It does not matter if you spend $10 on a 2005 Bordeaux Superior or $1900 on a 2005 Chateau Latour, it needs to breathe before consumption. Decanting or aeration will do the trick. If you don’t like the wine after 3 hours, try it the next day.

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Food Pairing: At a Chinese BYO

My fiancee and I found ourselves heading to a local Chinese restaurant, popular for their delicious and modern  Asian cuisine and also their $5 corkage fee. We had dined there before, with a large group of friends (many of whom brought 1.5L bottles of wine to maximize the wine from each cork). What I mostly remembered about the food was the heavy use of sauces, and the sauces being a touch on the salty side.


What wine should we take? My first recommendation for pairing with Chinese is almost always a  crisp, refreshing white (perhaps an Alsatian). On our last visit, once I realized it was a BYO place, I ran down the street to a corner liquor store and picked up a bottle of inexpensive Argentinian torrontes which had paired really well. But then I over-thought the whole thing, instead suggesting a bottle of 2006 Southern Gothic Poor Thing Grenache I had squirreled away. The fiancee is a big fan of grenache, and the right one can pair wonderfully with spicy sauces.

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Greg Goes to the Great Lakes Brew Fest

Great Lakes Brew FestIt was Saturday afternoon and I was in the back seat of a car full of Binny’s people. We were heading up North to Racine, Wisconsin, to help pour beer in the annual “Great Lakes Brew Fest.”


Racine is a bit outside of Binnys territory. I point this out because it was everybody’s day off, and we were actually volunteering our time and beer pouring prowess, and not representing Binnys. One of the guys in our group used to work at the Lakefront Brewery up in Milwaukee and still has contacts in Wisconsin.


Isn’t this the greatest industry?  How many people out there love their job so much that they’re willing to do it on their day off and for free?

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Binny’s Beer Expo Coming Soon


Binnys biggest beer tasting of the year and possibly largest ever, is coming up on Thursday, September 10th. Binnys South Loop will feature over 150 unique and appetizing beers from more than 60 different breweries from every niche of the globe. This is a cant miss opportunity for beer lovers to sample a little bit of everything, whether it is the recently released pumpkin, harvest, and Oktoberfest beers, or old favorites and flagships from world famous breweries. We look forward to meeting and discussing beer with you, and we hope you all can make it out to this mecca of beer events.


Homebrew Contest Winners Recognized


Tuesday night, Binnys in Willowbrook held a homebrew competition. The number of entries greatly exceeded our expectations, as we had over 80 people enter beers into the competition. The quality of the beers us judges tasted also was well above what any of us anticipated. We would like to congratulate the winners and honorable mentions, as well as thank each and every person that entered a beer into our competition.



First Place

Tom Kelleher on the leftTom Kelleher’s saison was true to the style, and perfectly carbonated. It had pleasant fruity esters, and was highly drinkable. It was the only saison entered into the competition, and the all around favorite of the judges. Toms grand prize includes a 3 day and 2 night all expense paid trip for two people to Denver next year for the Great American Beer Festival, valued at $1800 dollars. Tom is pictured on the left of the photo to the right.


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New and Notable

I’m always searching for great values in the world of wine to share with anyone who will listen. Here are a few new wines and notable values that I’ve been able to taste recently and thought you might like. Come on in, check them out,and be sure to ask the folks in the stores if they have any favorites of their own.


Also, don’t forget about our Weekend At Binny’stasting program special tastings are being held every Friday night and Saturday afternoon at Binny’s locations all across Chicagoland. After all, there’s no better way to find a new favorite than to taste it first for free!


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Whisky Hotline Hits the Road

The Whisky Hotline is hitting the road on the continued search for the best bottlings for our customers. I flew into Louisville last night with Binny’s Spirits consultants Joe Maloney, Doug Fornek, and Ross Macfarquhar and we’re going to be spending the day on the eastern edge of the Bourbon trail, with visits today at Four Roses, Wild Turkey and Buffalo Trace.  We have recently taken in a number of new hand picked bottlings (most notably the 10 barrel vatting of Buffalo Trace, IMHO the best we’ve done to date) and are prowling for more opportunities.  Only the best and most interesting will make it back to Chicago. I will be periodically updating the trip and passing along information and new discoveries as they arise.  Please feel free to submit questions, I just might be able to get answers directly from the source!

Focus on Vibrant Rioja

Binny’s has a thing for Rioja right now (a good thing). Be sure to check out our Rediscover Rioja tasting events, and also browse the wines we carry from Rioja the prices reflect our 10% OFF sale on ALL Rioja wines through October. Every single wine from Rioja!


Yesterday Binny’s held an internal training seminar about Rioja for our wine consultants. We discussed the region, watched a video from Rioja’s recent marketing blitz, and tasted a few wines.


The video was good and informative, if a little repetitive, and after about an hour I grew more and more aware of just how little padding my chair had. Soon enough, the lights came back on and the discussion started: we covered geography and climate, viticulture and winemaking, about the history and the future of the region. While tasting the wines, we discussed the qualities of each wine, but also how they fit into Rioja and how Rioja fits into the world of wine – who might like these wines, how they compare to other favorites, and as of course, food pairing ideas.


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Trends in Shoes and also in Australian Wine

I need to start jogging again. I could use the exercise. And by again, I mean that the last time I put serious effort into jogging, I was in high school. So I went to buy some running shoes.


The most plain pair of running shoes I could find.   Apparently, all modern running shoes are designed by comic book artists with attention deficit disorder and people who have stock in  foam rubber companies. Where can I get a pair of shoes that offer good cushion and arch support without all the flashy foil wiring and the suspension bridge Aquatread sole and the pyrotechnic reflective day-glo blue logos?


What I’m getting at here is that I’d rather pay for something of substance, something classically designed that works well, than for flashy gimmicks. Maybe I can work this out to be some kind of analogy for wine?

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