Wine lovers will have the chance to test their expertise during the oldest/longest running wine tasting competition in the country this weekend in Chicago.
Geja's Cafe's annual Professional/Amateur Wine Tasting Contest will be held at 1 p.m. Nov. 4 at the Chicago restaurant, which specializes in fondue.
"It's great that this is still going on," said John Davis, owner/proprietor of Geja's and founder of the 39-year-old competition. "When I started the contest, wine was not a well-publicized or popular beverage."
Davis said the contest is also a perfect way to put wine in the spotlight and show the general public how varied it is.
During the contest, participants will not only taste for flavor, but must show their knowledge on various wine characteristics. They'll be asked to identify everything from the grape to vintage of each wine and place of origin.
In the amateur division, participants must not have worked in the wine industry for the past three years.
Through the contest's 39-year history, Davis said anywhere from 30 to nearly 100 people have taken part every year.
"In the years we've had the contest, I've noticed that people have gotten much more knowledgeable about wines and they're familiar with many different wines," he said.
Davis offers some advice to contestants interested in testing their wine knowledge.
"Go with your first instinct," he said.
The restaurateur added they've opted "not to go with obscure wines" for the competition. "These are wines that people know," he said.
Davis said the fondue experience goes hand in hand with enjoyment of wine. When he established Geja's in 1965, he said that's just what he wanted to bring to the Windy City.
"When I went to Europe out of college I had a wonderful trip. I was exposed to wine, cheese and European architecture. I brought that back to Chicago," Davis said.
Throughout Geja's history, more than 967,371 bottles of wine have been sold at the restaurant.
The winner of each category in the Pro/Am Contest will receive an engraved wine decanter as well as bragging rights touting their wine expertise, of course. Entrance fee is $20 and participants must be 21 years of age or older.