While I had thought about trying wine at Wrigley Field this season, I decided against it because it would be (a) somewhat un-American/wrong for a baseball fan and (b) the potential mocking would be too much. I will admit, however, that I have been drinking wine at a few of Chicago’s great weekend street fests this summer. Really, it’s more common than you think.
I know the immediate question that comes to mind is, “Are the wines decent and drinkable at street fests?”
For the most part, the answer is yes and with regard to price they cost the same as a street fest beer. So go ahead and try it if you're heading to any one of the FOUR street fests this weekend:
30-31: Summer on Southport
30-31: Taste of Lincoln Avenue
Here’s my rundown of my street fest wine experiences (so far) this summer.
Yellow Tail Pinot Grigio
My first foray into street fest wine occurred at a Wrigleyville street fest with three different offerings from Australian Yellow Tail wines: Pinot Grigio, Moscato and Chardonnay. Not too many options here since I find two of these undrinkable anywhere, anytime; I went with the Pinot Grigio.
It was my first experience with Yellow Tail's white wines and it was a good one. I thought the Pinot Grigio was crispy, refreshing, a little fruity (green apples and pear) and very easy to drink. I’ve even purchased a bottle since then for Thai BYOB. It paired well and it was the right price for a bottle: $5.99.
Naked Grape Pinot Grigio
At my second street fest, my choice was Naked Grape Pinot Grigio. I am a big fan of Naked Grape Pinot Noir, a light wine that is drinkable with anything, even in warm summer temps. I was intrigued by another one from this family and fortunately it did not disappoint.
Made in California, the Pinot Grigio was light and crispy with fruit flavors (lemon and pear) and honey. It has a stronger flavor than the Yellow Tail but it’s still a good cheap summer Pinot Grigio.
I haven’t purchased it (yet) but I can find the Pinot Noir for either $8.99 at Whole Foods or Jewel for $6.99.
Ok, so this isn’t a glass of wine per se, but it represents a street fest wine offering and of the three, this was not a good option.
Offered by the bar McGees at the fest, the three of us didn’t ask what the white wine was in our sangrias, but I am guessing either Pinot Grigio or maybe Riesling because of its light taste. The rest of the drink contained too many oranges, ice, a splash of red, more oranges and lots of water/melted ice.
I couldn’t stomach more than half of this concoction. The rest of the group gave a better effort than me, but they couldn't finish a cup either. We all threw out our drinks and switched to beer.
Conclusion: If you do decide to go the wine route: Buyer beware! I’d probably stick with the known wine brands but I will stay away from the mixed wine drinks. And if you’re heading to Lollapalooza next weekend, the white wine is decent (I’ve given it a shot more than once).