To go out or to stay in? 2020 has made that the question of 2021. When life knocks you down, choosing to keep going is the only way forward, trusting ourselves that it will all work out. Rachel Botsman defines trust as “a confident relationship with the unknown.” Trusting that this year has turned out for the better, it’s off to a wine tasting with the Chianti Classico CoNNection at a fancy location. Getting there on the bus, riding for the first time in several years and the year during a pandemic no less! What better way to get back into the swing of things than with a visit to the glamorous luxury that is the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Chicago? Greeted by lush tropical giant green palms, the Chianti event is just an elevator ride up and through the modern, elegant décor of the lobby and lounge area. Sleek lines and glimmering soft lighting showcased the trendy bar with stunning panoramic city views and sky view windows on the side. Walking onto the plush cream carpeted area that led to the exciting wine occasion, women were seen strolling their suitcases away. Continuing down the wide and expansive hall, more groups of people headed out the door. CTA delays strike again! Was the event over? Upon entering, hotel staff were clearing tables, putting away wine glasses, pretty much cleaning the entire venue. Two vertical long tables took center stage decked with stacks of wine. Fifteen tables on either side of the wine bottles sat empty. A scattering of people, mainly men, stood around, conversing amongst themselves, personal spittoons in one hand and a wine glass in the other. Confused as to the itinerary of the event, and with no clear instructions, the next best thing was to head to the tables to see what was missed. Pencils, notepads, a pamphlet numbering and explaining all the wine details and three wine glasses lined the surface. A table to the far left contained charcuterie like meats, cheeses, grapes and honey. Eager to begin partaking in the fun, the next stop was asking for help on tasting the wine because up until this point, no one had welcomed or explained what in the wine was going on. Uh oh. No one wore a mask. The hand sanitizer dispenser needed a refill. Yikes! More unknowns!
Enter Michael. Personable, courteous and enlightening he elucidated the setup and commenced the pouring. He held down the fort and made the experience pleasant, explaining that the organizer left early. Michael discussed how there were so few people at the final tasting of the event it was decided that people could self-pour and walk around instead of being seated. He graciously commented that everyone was vaccinated. A true marker of building trust in 2021, as safety is always top priority.
At least 200 wines lined the tables underneath a glowing large rectangle shaped chandelier. Some labels stood out, others blended in and still others with their old world labels became part of the charm. A trio of youngest to oldest Volpaia Chianti were lined up with Michael’s expertise and the tasting finally began! As dessert is an essential part of any meal, the question of which wine to pair with pastries was promptly answered. Indeed popular, as only the last sip was left, Badia a Coltibuono Vin Santo left an intensely sweet flavor on the palate. Noteworthy wineries included Valiano, Casaloste, Castello Di Cacchiano, and Isole e Olena for their memorable tastings. Banfi’s use of rocky soil and no manipulation contributed to the earthiness of their wine. Caparsa’s hand drawn labels intrigued and called out.
The Chianti Classico CoNNection was a celebration of spring and dynamic, robust wine producers. It’s annual presentation was expanded world wide to include 6 different cities featured in Munich, Tokyo, London, Chicago, New York and Florence. Looking around at the cozy group talking, boozing it up, laughing and learning about each other and wine, this casual, laid back, and informative wine tasting served as a reminder of what our lives had been prior to 2020. Trust was planted in a short amount of time despite the early setbacks. Connections were made, enjoyable wine tasted and made better with the company kept. Just as wine gets better with age, cultivating a positive outlook enhances our years. Keeping a perspective of being present and reveling in life’s little moments aids in adding more richness and abundance to every day. Floor to ceiling windows encased the ballroom, with city buildings peeking through as the sun’s rays bounced around, reflecting a warm glow. Grateful for each other’s presence, this successful, intimate wine gathering beckoned for a toast. Cheers to trusting life!
Check out the worldwide event
Photo Credit: Yvonne Pulido