Smile Politely

Krannert Uncorked weekly wine tasting

Finding out about Krannert Center for the Performing Art’s free weekly wine tasting events was one of the happiest moments of my semester. Really. Say the words “free” and “alcohol” and I’m there. What I didn’t realize was that there was more to these tastings than just sipping wine that I couldn’t afford. The crowd and overall atmosphere made this an event that can’t be matched.

Krannert Uncorked is every Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m. at KCPA. Wine tasters are seated in the tables around the stage just beyond the Stage 5 Bar. It’s not hard to find where the wine is being served, as there’s usually a long line in front of the table. Tasters typically have a choice between three different wines and they are allowed to try one at a time. The wine is served in an oh-so-classy Dixie cup and the amount per cup is usually around one third to one half full, depending on the generosity of that week’s sponsor. If this amount is not satisfactory or if you’ve fallen in love with a certain wine, full glasses are available for purchase at the Stage 5 Bar. In addition to the wine offerings, a table full of cheese and crackers is also provided. And for everyone’s listening pleasure, there is a different band that comes to play roughly every other week.

A different winery or business sponsors the event each week. Past sponsors include Corkscrew, Friar Tuck, Piccadilly, Sleepy Creek Vineyards, Binny’s, and Big Grove Tavern. Last week’s sponsor was Tuscan Hills Winery, located in Effingham. This winery prides itself on being a family owned and operated business. Their winemaker, Dr. Larry Jackson, has over 30 years of experience in the business and is also an American Wine Society judge. I was pumped to sample what they had to offer.

While waiting in line, IDs were checked and participants were given a stamp on their hand. With my hand not clearly visible to the woman pouring the wine, she made sure to have me flash my stamp before receiving my Dixie cup. I didn’t blame her; I am at the tender age of 21 and hardly look it. Nevertheless, I was ready and eager to expand on my knowledge of wine.

The first wine I was given was called Andiamo!, which translates to “let’s go!” in Italian. The woman pouring the wine referred to it as a Pinot Grigio because that’s something people are familiar with. In reality, she explained, it was an off-dry medium-bodied Seyval Blanc wine. I enjoyed this wine and was especially fond the crispness of it. Also, I loved the many fruit aromas in it, including pineapple, lemon, peach, apple, and pear. I could definitely see drinking this wine on a warm summer’s day.

Next up was a red wine called Chambourcin, which was said to be a favorite with Cabernet fans. This dry wine was medium bodied and slightly crisp. The woman from Tuscan Hills informed me that this wine showed cherry, roses, black pepper, raspberry, strawberry, cedar, and vanilla.

To finish, I sampled Tuscan Hill’s Pretty in Pink wine, their best seller. Before receiving it, the woman pouring it referred to this wine as “Kool-Aid on steroids” and that “it gets beer drinkers in trouble.” I was definitely intrigued. It was a very sweet and fruity blush wine with aromas of strawberries, roses, cherries, and a candied-fruit medley. It was described by Tuscan Hills as being full bodied in texture, but with light fresh fruit flavors and balanced with an underlying crispness. I was in love. This dessert wine would definitely be something I would buy for a fun occasion.

To go along with the wine, I enjoyed the complementary cheese and crackers supplied by Krannert. There was a selection of pepperjack, Swiss, and cheddar cheese cubes and a variety of crackers as well. There was also a cheddar cheese spread, which one gentleman was so fond of that he filled his entire Dixie cup with it and proceeded to lick it like an ice cream cone. To each his own I suppose. We may have all needed to start doing that, however, because the crackers ran out only 30 minutes into the event, leaving a mountain of cheese cubes and spread left at the table.

As promised, the band The Young and the Fretless came to perform at the event. Their fiddle-banjo tunes were high energy and definitely got some toes tappin’. I didn’t know many, or any, of the songs that they played, but I have to say, I really enjoyed their performance. They really looked like they loved what they were doing and they were very talented people.

The majority of the wine tasters were middle aged and up, and I felt as though I was one of the youngest there, besides of course some young children that were teetering around the tables. I think that students would really enjoy attending these tastings, though, and I would definitely recommend that they come check it out. It’s a great chance for anyone to enjoy a classy outing, hear some music you may not have listened to ordinarily, and sip on some free wine. What could be better?

Krannert Uncorked is each Thursday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.; this semster’s remaining dates are April 17, April 24, May 1, and May 8. 

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