Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Frame of Mind 6/28/06 Fruitful Discussion

The light was soft, reflecting off the yellow ceiling, shining from small candles on four tables at The Oak Park Abbey as customers tasted wines from Spain, South Africa and South America.

Tasters chatted as they sampled the white, rosé and red wines, sipping from one of the four wine glasses on the table before them. Some drank the entire sample. Others sipped and discarded the rest into a wine bucket set in the middle of each table in the wine bar and restaurant.

Instructor and wine distributor Aldo Zaninotto presented the 19 wines, describing the areas they came from and the flavors people could expect. As Zaninotto talked, more wine was distributed, bottle clinking against glasses, wine gurgling into them.

Zaninotto described the flowery fragrance of one wine from Argentina, and the smell of flowers was evident as the liquid swirled in its glass. He pointed out the spicy flavor from another, and upon tasting, the spices tickled the tongue.

Wine classes are scheduled for every other Tuesday this summer at The Oak Park Abbey, 728 Lake St. Owner Ellen Bettenhausen invites her wine distributors to host classes.

Part of the Abbey's original concept was to educate people, Bettenhausen said.

"I wanted people to come in and really enjoy the experience of wine, to not feel afraid to try something new or afraid to ask a question about this, or afraid to try this food with this wine," she said.

Zaninotto, an Oak Park resident, works for Distinctive Wines and Spirits in Chicago. He travels the world sampling wines, he said, visiting wineries in California, Italy and France.

"I love the passion and the enjoyment, and the beauty about this is, I do sell a product that has life," he said. "It has a meaning. I'm not selling plastic containers, something like that."

-Chris LaFortune

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