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The Advantages of Wine Tastings – Part 2

14 January 2012

A little while back I wrote a post about a delightful tasting of small-batch wines organized by In Fine Spirits. Events like this can be amazingly helpful; tasting numerous wines in rapid succession can really clarify what it is you like in a wine. Then the next time you go into a wine shop, you can more clearly explain what you’re looking for (assuming you used the spit bucket occasionally, so that you actually remember what you like).

The other major benefit of wine tastings is meeting really fun, interesting people. At the In Fine Spirits tasting, I quite enjoyed the wines Ian of Vinejoy presented, we had a great chat, and he put me on his dinner party list. His wine company hosts periodic pot luck dinners in various atmospheric locations, gathering together wine geeks, chefs, friends and various other assorted folk.

A few weeks later, crock pot in hand, I descended into the old basement of Gentile’s Wine Shop on Taylor Street, where a bricked-up tunnel hinted at the space’s bootlegging past. Platters of delicious-looking food covered multiple tables, illuminated by the glow of Christmas lights hanging from the pipes and ducts.

Vinejoy served plenty of tasty wines to accompany the buffet, including a number of wines I’d enjoyed at the In Fine Spirits tasting. But one was completely new to me, and it blew me away: a non-vintage (NV) white blend called The Shakedown from California’s Central Coast.

Ian had poured The Shakedown’s red blend at the In Fine Spirits event, and I thought it was one of the best values of the entire tasting. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised, then, that I loved their white wine as well. A blend of 75% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Muscat Blanc and 5% Viognier, this wine tasted like a glass full of ripe peaches. A stony finish kept things grounded, but there was something else I couldn’t figure out.

Ian took a brief break from the DJ console to talk with me about the wine, and I asked him about its flavor profile. He said, “Well, some people also taste dill in that wine.” And that was it. I think I couldn’t identify the flavor because I never would have expected to taste it. It sounds like an odd combination — peaches and dill and stone — but it’s fantastic. A great choice for pairing with spicy Asian dishes. And since all grapes used in Shakedown blends are sustainably farmed by the Central Coast Vineyard Team, environmentally conscious folks can feel good about drinking these wines.

I can tell you that I certainly felt good about drinking it.


NV The Shakedown White Blend: A rich, rather sweet, peachy wine with an underpinning of stone. An excellent value, and a fine pairing with spicy Thai and Chinese food.

Grade: B+

Find It: A range of shops in Chicagoland carry The Shakedown blends, which sell for about $12.50. You can find a full list here.

Blends - White, California

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