Mondiale - Back to Basics - The Mid America Club

Nine Most Common Grape Varietals

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Vice Echanson Tim Malishenko*


Back-to-Basics: Passing the Test

By Bailli Jane Tracy

Can you become a wine tasting expert by accident?  It seems unlikely.  I daresay most of us would agree that our initial efforts and forays into this art form were, by our own admission, patchy at least.  Then, as our palates evolve over time plus much sniffing, swirling and tasting, we become emboldened and enter a new dimension of appreciation.
Our Mondiale afternoon at the Mid-America Club on a sunny but cold Chicago day in January, was designed to re-focus our awareness on the characteristics of a selection of the nine most common grape varieties.  Maître Hôtelier Michael Ward, General Manager and Executive Chef Michael Pivoney, had planned a series of small plates with the specific intention of heightening the individuality of each grape’s personality.  We were able to discern and deconstruct the sensations on the palate before tasting each small plate as well as discovering how food made a difference to each wine’s individuality.  Interactive discussions and playful debate meant that we had a lot of fun.  It took some self-discipline on the part of a few to remain focused on the characteristics alone and who fought the urge to develop it into a pairing exercise! 

Vice Échanson Tim Malishenko had selected nine international grape varieties as listed in Hugh Johnson’s The World Atlas of Wine and provided us with notes on the grapes themselves and Vice-Chancelier/Argentier “Mon” Roldan led the discussion. 


We begin 2010 high above Chicago in the Aon Building at the Mid-America Club for our “Back- to-Basics” wine event. The club’s elegant 80th floor location provides spectacular views of Chicago and we can expect warm hospitality on a cold January afternoon.

Maître Hôtelier Michael Ward, General Manager of the Mid-America Club and member of Chicago Mondiale du Vin, is our host for the afternoon with Chef Michael Pivoney preparing a range of hors d’oeuvres to complement our wine selections. Chef Michael most recently was executive chef of the Signature Room and prior to that was executive sous chef at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. He has executive chef experience in Puerto Rico and The Bahamas but his culinary roots are from the Washburne Culinary Institute in Chicago.

We must answer the question “Which nine grape varieties should be served?” There are over 600 from which to choose. Whether you wish to attend or not, please send the list you would choose to Tim Malishenko and include a brief comment on your criterion for selecting the nine varieties. I will tabulate the results for discussion at the event.

Attendance will be on a first come, first served basis with preference to Mondiale members. Attendance is based on availability of wines and serving portion. So attendance normally occurs in increments of 12, thus we anticipate 24 for the event but will expand if there is a sufficient response.