Harvest Fest at Bin36- Blend Your Own Wine
It’s fall and that means it’s harvest season. Here in Chicago there isn’t exactly a lot of winemaking going on, but Bin36 doesn’t let its patrons miss out on harvest activities. Every fall they host a Harvest Festival. This year was the 2nd time I have gone. It’s a chance to blend your own wine. You heard me blend your own wine. It’s a fun experience and your newly blended wine is a cool gift idea and arrives in time for the holidays.
Here’s how it works. There are 3 stations a smelling station, a blending station and a buying station.
Here you got to smell and taste the wines you’d be blending. This year the 3 wines were Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot. At each wine table they have an array of items for you to smell, things like fruits, leather, tobacco, coffee beans and spices. The items at the table are characteristics that you might find in that wine. Having the items available to smell helps you to identify those characteristics in the wine.
Cabernet Sauvignon: I got lots of strawberry on the nose and there was also some leather. The flavor was soft with a little bit of smoke. the tasting notes talked about leather cedar and dark fruits like plums, currants and cherry. I got some dark fruit for sure but strawbery really stood out to me.
Merlot: I found this wine to be tannic and I didn’t get as much fruit off of this wine as I would expect from a Merlot. The fruit I did get was dark berries. The tasting note also talked about chocolate and mocha but I didn’t really get that. I felt the tannin overpowered the other flavors and I wasn’t a huge fan of this Merlot.
Syrah: This wine had the spice typical of a Syrah rich fruit flavors and a pepperiness. According to the tasting notes the Syrah should add some complexity to your wine.
Once you completed the smelling station you were ready to move on to blending. Here you had 3 opportunities to try different blends of the 3 wines. The cab served as your base wine. You were required to have at least 75% cab in your blend. The rest was up to you. You could do a blend of all 3 or a blend with only one of the other wines. Once you decided on the blend you’d like to try you gave your sheet to a Bin 36 employee and they mixed a glass of your blend and you get to taste it. Based on what you taste you adjusted your blend to try to get a bled you’d really enjoy.
My friend Alison and I each tried a different blends each time so in total we tried 6 blends.
The blends we tried:
(Rating indicates my order of preference, 1 being my favorite and 6 being my least favorite)
I wasn’t that surprised that my favorite blend didn’t have any Merlot in it since I wasn’t a huge fan of it when we did the smelling station, what did surprise me is that my least favorite blend also didn’t have Merlot in it and that my favorite and least favorite blend only differed by 5% less Cab and more Syrah. It’s amazing how much difference 5% can make! I like spice that the Syrah added to the wine and adding a little more Syrah to the blend cut some of the fruit that was too much for me in the 80/20 blend.
Once you picked your favorite blend you were ready to buy it. Here you placed your order (you could buy half a case or a full case) and designed your label. They offered several different labels to choose from and then you got to decide what you want it to say. You could name your wine or you could personalize the label with something like Merry Christmas from the Clark’s. This year I didn’t buy any wine but last time I went to harvest fest I did and I called my wine Dana’s Blend (not very original I know).
In addition to an afternoon of wine blending there was a spread of appetizers and a selection of wine you could order by the glass ( the reds we were blending and a few whites) All and all an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon and a pretty good deal for $36.