9 Perfect Pairings: Midwest Wine Experiences
The $110 nine-course tasting menu (plus $55 for wine pairings) isn't really dinner. It's an event.
Settle in over the delicate tang of coffee-scented fluke tartare enhanced by a brightly fizzing flute of champagne; roughly three hours later, you'll find yourself at the deeply satisfying finale of goat's milk caramel ice cream and Criollo chocolate paired with a selection of tawny ports.
The intricacy and scope of such elaborate fare certainly have the potential to be intimidating. Is it a faux pas to sip Chardonnay with foie gras? Is Pinot Noir acceptable with Peking duck? And if you have to ask, will you look foolish?
Of course not, says Blackbird sommelier Chris Nostvick. Servers can explain precisely how a late-harvest French Chardonnay brings out the flavors in garlic-braised snails or why the pickled cherries with slow-cooked halibut are enhanced by an aromatic Sancerre.
"I love talking to people about wine, but it's a conversation, not a lecture," Chris says. "There are no stupid questions. There are no hard and fast rules. I see wine as consumable art, and I encourage people to explore it."
That friendly vibe is crucial, says Chef de Cuisine David Posey, the creative culinary force behind dishes like zucchini gazpacho with cuttlefish and squash churro (paired with an Alsace Riesling). "We really want to keep the food and wine extraordinary and the atmosphere relaxed and comfortable," David says, "like you're going over to a friend's house."
Sure. If you have a friend who cooks like no other and has one stellar wine list. (312) 715-0708; blackbirdrestaurant.com -- Catey Sullivan
(A version of this story appeared in Midwest Living® September/October 2011.)