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Yes, You Can Do That

   Last night I drank a cuvee. Some leftover bottles were abandoned by a salesperson who was presumably looking to lighten his load. I ended up with two, both 2006 Brunellodi Montalcino, and both just less than half a bottle. So I mixed them.

   I reheated some leftover gnoochi, parked myself on a second-hand sofa and watched a rerun on TV.

   That was a fib. It was actually a DVD of a long-cancelled sticom.

   Yes, you can do that, mix wines. Why not? The wine snob police will not come after you. This is what wine makers do they mix wines up to see what happens and then bottle the results.

   I remember working for a guy who would round up the bottles after big tastings and mix the remnants to enjoy that night or the next day. He pointed out that wine lasts longer ifthere’s less air in the bottle. He would let me take one from time to time. At first the concept shocked me, but now I don’t really see what the big deal is.

   Discovery makes tasting wine fun; finding all the facets and complexities that make each wine unique. Sure, mixing wines together pretty much ruins that. But that doesn’t mean the wine that paired so well with my gnooci last night was any less delicious.

Midwest Wine Expo 2011


About yesterday’s Midwest Wine Expo: A big thank you to the suppliers, restaurants, speakers and pourers for making everything run so well. Thanks to Matt Ulery’s Gaslight for supplying the jazz. And of course, a huge thank you is due to all of you who came out to spend a Sunday afternoon tasting a few wines with us. You make this thing a continuing success.

We’re looking for your feedback. Every year we try to make this event the best it can be, so leave a comment below. More feedback = better Expo. Oh yeah, if you have any better pictures, feed us some links. I’m not a great photographer.

Hope to see you at the MWE next year. And at Binny’s Beverage Depot a bunch of times before then, of course.

Midwest Wine Expo Crowds

Matt Ulery's Gaslight

More Midwest Wine Expo Crowds

Midwest Wine Expo Raffle Table

Yet More Midwest Wine Expo Crowds

Midwest Wine Expo Brought to You by Binny's Beverage Depot

Midwest Wine Expo Blind Tasting Results


Thanks to everyone who took a shot in our Blind Tasting Contest at yesterday’s Midwest Wine Expo. I can tell you it’s one of the most intimidating challenges out there. Congrats to our winners, and check out the answer key below. If you skipped the Blind Tasting, be sure to give it a shot next year. Best advice: don’t overthink it.


Blind Tasting Answers

  1. 2009 Ransom Pinot Gris
    Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA
  2. 2009 St Supery Sauvignon Blanc
    Napa Valley, California, USA
  3. 2009 Louis Jadot Pouilly Fuisse (Chardonnay)
    Pouilly Fuisse, Burguny, France
  4. 2006 Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva (Sangiovese)
    Chianti Classico , Tuscany, Italy
  5. 2009 St Michelle Indian Wells Cabernet Sauvignon
    – Columbia Valley, Washington, USA
  6. 2009 Seghesio Zinfandel Sonoma
    – Sonoma, California, USA

Read more

Coming Soon: Central Waters Brewing Company

Just in case you didn’t see our Beer Buzz email from last week, or you haven’t heard it from somewhere else at this point, we wanted to inform you that Central Waters Brewing Company is coming to Chicago.  Not only does the Amherst, Wisonsin based brewery produce world class beers, but they are environmentally conscious.  Check out this link to learn more about why Central Waters is Wisonsin’s first green powered brewery.


While Central Waters features a delicious everyday lineup, it is their seasonal beer portfolio that really has us drooling.  We had the chance to sample a few of their bourbon barrel aged beers this past winter in the form of Bourbon Barrel Stout and Bourbon Barrel Cherry Stout, and were more than impressed.  Their Brewhouse Coffee Stout may be the the best coffee beer we have yet to encounter.  Keep an eye out for these seasonals and more later on in the year.  For a full list of Central Water’s beers, visit this page.


We were initially expecting Central Waters arrival later this month, but nothing is set in stone yet.  When we do finally see their beers at Binny’s, we will let you know.  Which Central Waters brew are you most looking forward to?

Wine for a Wine Guy’s Wedding, or Cheap Wine I’d Pour in Bulk

   I am a lucky guy. Not to boast, but I have what is arguably the best job in the universe, and I’m getting married to the sweetest girl in the world in just a couple months.

   In planning the wedding, there are issues that I, a male of my generation, am unequipped to handle. I don’t know why each invitation includes so many envelopes. I am baffled by the difference between square and round patio lanterns. I don’t consider a choice between The Pointer Sisters’ “Fire” and Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight” to be much of a choice at all.

   When it comes to the wine, I had better be interested. Our centerpieces will be three wine bottles: one cut just below the shoulders as a vase for some flowers, and two more that will be full of wine. Cute plan, no? 

   Last night she made a lasagna similar to the one we’ll be enjoying on that evening in June, and I brought two bottles of red and two bottles of white. Since I work in the wine industry, I can’t afford the wine I want. What we’re looking for is inexpensive wine in availability, that tastes good in a crowd pleasing sense. Bonus points for a cute bottle.



   First up, I grabbed a bottle of 2009 Monte Oton by Borsao. This inexpensive grenache from Spain is what I would consider a consistent value (along with the Ateca Garnacha de Fuego, another good grenache, but something about the flame on the label just doesn’t work for our occasion). The Monte Oton is an easygoing wine, with big cherry notes and just a little spice and espresso roast to keep it serious.

   Next, the 2009 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Villages is usually like ten bucks, but for the rest of March (that’s nine more days) it’s on sale for $5.99. With 2009 as the best vintage for Beaujolais in memory, plus this outstanding price, I had to at least give it a try. It’s good. A textbook example of carbonic maceration, it’s all strawberries and bananas, super fruity and super drinkable.

   The verdict? Both bottles have cute labels, are affordable and easy to drink. Either would be great, but my fiancee has a love for grenache, so the people at our wedding can look forward to finding a bottle of Monte Oton on their table. Then I made sangria with the Beaujolais.



   As uneventful as it seems, the Lindeman’s Bin 65 Chardonnay is a great value. It features plenty of fruit apricot and pineapple, mostly and enough of the sweetening effects of wood aging without being overwhelmingly oaky.

   With pleasing the crowd in mind some friends and family members do drink only sweet blue-bottle riesling I grabbed a wine that screams spring: the 2009 Gazela Vinho Verde. This would not be my first choice of beverage, pretty much ever. But it is one of the lightest, easiest drinking wines out there, with faint hints of fruit and a tiny amount of fizziness, making it just about right for a nice afternoon. 

   The verdict here? I thought either would have been okay, if not my favorite. As it became clear that my fiancee felt the same, I decided to make it easier by running to the nearest Binny’s to grab one more bottle. I was thinking of Las Brisas, a deliciously light, floral and crisp Spanish white, but it’s temporarily unavailable. Choice No. 4, which also hapenned to be the recommendation of the wine manager, was Clean Slate Riesling.

   2009 Clean Slate is one of the best values from Germany; it’s a dry(ish) style riesling, with lots of bright lemon peel and granny smith apple. I think it was a genuine smile that followed the Clean Slate on my fiancee’s lips, and then she said “That’s really good.” Easy enough; that’s the one for us.



   … Now all I have to do is talk the caterer down on the corkage fee. And talk my fiancee into letting the band play Patsy Cline’s version of “Crazy.” 

Reminder: Annual Homebrew Contest at South Loop


I hope you have your best ever homebrew batch in the works right now, because our Fourth Annual Homebrew Contest sponsored by Sam Adams is fast approaching. Consider this your reminder.


Binny’s 4th Annual Homebrew Contest

Saturday, April 9th from 12-2pm

Entry is FREE, limited to first 50 entries

   Bring two 12oz bottles or one 22oz bottle of your best brew to our South Loop Binny’s location on the Tuesday or Wednesday before the contest. That’s the 5th or the 6th. With your entry form rubber banded around your beer. Judging will take place on Friday, and winners will be announced at the event on Saturday, and you must be present to win.

Prizes include a trip for two to the Great American Beer Festival, plus runner-up prizes and entry prizes. The event itself is going to be pretty sweet, with food pairing and a special beer on tap just for the contest. Kyle has more specific info on this blog post.

Again, don’t forget your official entry form. Get it right here.

See you there.

Boulevard Brewing Co. Coming to Binny’s

We have just confirmed that Boulevard Brewing Company, the pride of Kansas City, Missouri, will be shipping their beers to Binny’s!  The tentative release date is mid-April, and we are anticipating four year round beers in six-packs, as well as one seasonal beer available in six-packs.  Also soon to be en route are four beers from Boulevard’s Smokestack series, available in 750ml corked and caged bottles and 4-packs. Since Boulevard has eight year round, five seasonal, and nine Smokestack beers listed on their website, you are probably eager to see what Boulevard will be bringing to Binny’s.  So without further ado, here is the list (included in the list are the brewer’s descriptions):


Year Round Six-Packs

Unfiltered Wheat – A slightly cloudy, light-bodied, straw colored beer with a sweet, bready malt flavor, low hop bitterness and a hint of citrus.


Pale Ale – A crisp, amber colored, light- to medium-bodied beer with a mellow caramel malt character and prominent hop flavor and bitterness.


Single-Wide IPA – A golden colored beer with a prominent flowery, grapefruit hop aroma, a moderate caramel malt flavor and a dominant hop bitterness and flavor. 


Bully! Porter – A dark colored, medium-bodied beer with a prominent burnt, roasted malt aroma and flavor and an equally prominent hop aroma, flavor and bitterness. 


Seasonal Six-Packs

ZON Belgian-Style Witbier – A cloudy, straw colored beer with a bright fruity aroma, a moderate sweet, bready malt flavor and a low level of hop bitterness and a hint of spice.


Smokestack Beers

Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale – A straw colored, light to medium bodied beer with an earthy, spicy, grapefruit aroma and flavor, a soft, sweet malt flavor and a prominent hop bitterness.


The Sixth Glass – A brown colored, full bodied beer with a complex fruity, estery aroma, a rich, sweet, caramel malt flavor containing notes of dark fruit and a low to medium hop bitterness and flavor.


Dark Truth Stout – This is a full bodied beer whose general characteristics include a black, almost opaque appearance with a rich chocolaty and moderatly fruity aroma. The flavor is has an intense roasted malt character, exhibiting elements of dark fruit, coffee and sweet chocolate. The hop character has a moderate, balancing bitterness. 


Double-Wide IPA – An amber-brown, full bodied beer with an intense floral, citrus hop aroma and pronounced hop bitterness and flavor, backed up by a strong caramel, toffee-like malt flavor.


Which of the Boulevard brews are you most looking forward to?  Is it the flagship, Unfiltered Wheat, or perhaps one of the Smokestacks?

A Craft Beer Road Show Favorite En Route: Stumptown Tart

Fruit beers are definitely not for everyone, which is why we were surprised that one of  the most popular beers at our recent Binny’s craft beer road shows was Bridgeport Stumptown Tart.  Unfortunately, we had to inform customers that this beer was not available for purchase in our stores, because Bridgeport had not yet decided to bring it to the Chicago market.  Well, as if on cue, Bridgeport has decided to bring Stumptown Tart to our stores, with a tentative availability window of May-September.


The craft beer road show attendees had a chance to sample the 2010 Stumptown Tart (pictured on right), which was brewed with over one ton of raspberries per batch.  The 2011 version due to hit our stores is infused with a totally different fruit, Oregon’s own Willamette Valley strawberries, also in the form of one ton per batch.  The 2011 Stumptown Tart clocks in at 7.7% ABV,and supposedly is crisp, refreshing, and wickedly tart.


Sometimes it amazes us just how many customers come into our stores looking for strawberry flavored beer…and the lack of breweries that craft them.  Do you have a favorite strawberry injected brew?

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