Wine fans to test expertise in country's oldest tasting contest

2013-10-30T00:00:00Z 2013-10-31T12:04:06Z Wine fans to test expertise in country's oldest tasting contestEloise Marie Valadez Eloise.Valadez@nwi.com, (219) 933-3365 nwitimes.com

Cheers to the oldest/longest running wine tasting competition in the country.

"This is a special year for us because it's the 40th anniversary," said John Davis, owner/proprietor of Geja's Cafe in Chicago which presents its annual Professional/Amateur Wine Tasting Contest this weekend at the eatery.

The competition will be held at 1 p.m. Nov. 3 at Geja's, known for its classic fondue dining format.

"I'm coming in from Utah for the contest," said Davis, who now calls the Beehive state home. "It'll be great because I'm going to see some people who've been in this contest every year," he said.

When Davis started the competition, he said, wine was not in the spotlight nor was it a well-publicized beverage.

"Now, people are interested in and enjoy exploring wine from all over the world," he said.

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.

Competitors have traveled from not only the Chicago area, Northwest Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan but also from various parts of the country for the event through the years.

Davis said anywhere from 30 to nearly 100 people have taken part every year.

There have been more than 1,150 competitors who've consumed 2, 808 bottles of wine throughout the history of the contest. In the amateur category, competitors must have worked in the wine industry for at least three years.

While this is quite the serious event for wine aficionados, Davis said the contest is also "a social event."

"They all share a love of wine and it's just a very enjoyable day," he said.

Davis said those testing their knowledge of wine should basically "go with their gut instincts" while competing.

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. Entrance fee is $20 and participants must be 21 years of age or older. FYI: Call (773) 281-9101

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