I don’t usually think of Italy and Pinot Noir in the same sentence. This memory changed that thought. I used to go to Chicago for business twice a year, and I would buy an extra ticket for my Bride (she could not be expensed, but I figured the hotel would be, and who wants to be alone in another city). I also would not expense my dinners, as they would far surpass any per diem that I would be allowed (so why look for problems).
One trip, we decided to go to a noted restaurant in Chicago, Italian Village Restaurant. We were dressed to the nines for dinner and when we arrived at the lobby of the restaurant we saw some couples coming down the stairs from another restaurant in denim shorts and t-shirts. I thought, did I make a mistake, was this a “big-bowl pasta joint?” Then they took us to our table in the restaurant behind the lobby. As soon as we walked in, I knew that we had made the right decision. This was an “old school” Italian restaurant with narrow aisles and booths, with dim lighting. I felt at home immediately.
They brought us our menu and the wine list. The wine list was a misnomer; it should have been a wine book. They advertised that they carried a selection of about 1700 wines. At that point in my life, it was the largest listing of wines, I had ever encountered. Page after page of wines that I would have loved to have ordered, but my wallet would not allow it. I was totally humbled. The sommelier came by, and we started to talk about the vast selection listed. He was a true gentleman, came to the realization that I was not going to pop for a sacred selection. We were going to order some classic Italian dishes and after discussing our menu choices, he inquired if I would like to try something more unique that would be harmonious with our meal. I agreed and felt that the wine should be fun and adventurous.
Since we were not having “heavy” Italian cuisine, he asked if I had ever had an Italian Pinot Noir. I replied that I had not, as I thought of Pinot as the choice of Burgundy in France, and of Northern California. He smiled and assured me, that we would enjoy the wine. The wine was a Concilio Pinot Noir Trentino Riserva 1993. It had great color and body; was a perfect pairing for our dinner. We actually lingered after dinner to enjoy the wine by itself, until we had finished the bottle. Then we ordered dessert, cappuccino and Black Sambucca. I asked if we could have the empty bottle as a remembrance, when they found out that we were from out-of-town, they went and removed the label from the bottle and put it in a keepsake folder. They said that it would be easier than packing an empty bottle in our luggage. What a wonderful way to end an evening.