LUSH: Back to Basics

May 26, 2011 at 11:58 pm (BYOB, class, Current Events, Geek, Our Favorite Things, Special Events, What we are eating, What we are thinking, What we're drinking) (, , , , , , , , )

by Ms. Jessica Tessendorf

LUSH lingo leaving you a little bamboozled? Let’s get straight to the facts. An honest to
goodness list of everything your neighborhood LUSH can provide just for you.

1. FREE booze! If the lights are blinking, you’re drinking. 12-10, 7 days a week. Anything
we have opened is fair game.
2. FREE Scheduled tastings. 2-5 each and every Sunday afternoon. Check out the website
or call your local shop to see what the weekly theme is. Not a wine fan? 25% of our
scheduled tastings are either beer or spirits. We provide the topic, the booze, and some
tasting notes, you provide your face.
3. Personalized tastings. Pick a topic, or don’t. Have it blind, or not. Have some snacks
to pair, or drink your food. Set a date with Ms. Carrie (carrie@lushwineandspirits.com) at Roscoe Village, or Ms. Alica (alicia@lushwineandspirits.com) at West Town & University Village, get
some friends together, and have a more tailored tasting event. Read the rest of this entry »

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Scotch Class 2010

December 8, 2010 at 12:21 am (class, Current Events, What we are thinking) (, , , , , , , , )

by Ms. Erin

This past Friday, Ms. Jane Lopes and I taught a rousing Scotch class to a private group of eight, partly populated by a Real Live Scotsman. To note that I was nervous, particularly given the audience, is a a gross understatement. Would I pronounce all those difficult words correctly? Would I remember the names of all the small parcels of land known as “The Islands,” when discussing the regions of Scotch production? [They are Jura, Arran, Mull, Orkney, and Skye, for what it’s worth.]

My fears turned out to be largely unfounded, with the group genial, and the Scottish guest happy to help with the quirks of pronunciation, and sharing stories about his childhood in the Outer Hebrides–where there are few Scotch distilleries–and summers cutting peat to be used for the family home’s source of fuel come winter. And, despite my initial apprehension, the result was a cozy little class peppered with many anecdotes, Jane’s encyclopedic spirits knowledge, my wisecracks, and a whole lot of new information floating around that jumble that is it my winter brain.

Now, we Lushies love to share new and exciting tidbits. Here are a few of my favorite facts and figures learned while prepping for and teaching the class:

* Scotch is always aged in used barrels. Happily, those Scots who brought their distilling techniques to the US are now benefiting from a beautiful cycle: since American bourbon can only be aged in new oak barrels, the Yankee distillers can recoup some costs by sending their once-used barrels over to Scotland, where they will contain another generation of whisky.
* I already knew this, but: in Scotland, it’s whisky. Not whiskey. Don’t even try it.
* Scotch took over Europe as the premier spirit of choice when the phylloxera louse destroyed grape production in the Cognac-producing parts of France.
* Once known as the “upper Highlands,” the Speyside region is only about 10 miles by 50 miles, yet contains the majority of Scotch distilleries in the nation. It’s named for Scotland’s longest river, the Spey, which is 200 miles long.
* A Scotch can be smoky but not peaty: there are many ways of drying malted barley, and peat is only one of them. That said, peat expresses a definitive sense of terroir, from both the water flowing through it, and the composition of the plant life decaying into peat [or, as Jane calls it, “unsquashed charcoal”].
* The more you know, the more you want to know. Time to go do some more research. Sip!



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School of LUSH: Summer courses

July 23, 2010 at 10:15 am (class, Current Events, Our Favorite Things, What we are thinking) (, , , , , , , , , , )

RSVP to kelly@lushwineandspirits.com

SCHOOL OF LUSH:
Class is in session. Get schooled, LUSH style. Our classes are firing up, so check out our course offerings below for a good schoolin’. Plaid skirts are NOT required, but an open mind and palate is. Stay after class for extra tutoring and chat with the geeky squad of Lush lecturers. Come on in to see how Lush does school, a no-nonsense, down to earth wine course that is perfect for those who enjoy drinking wine, eating delicious food, and talking about it. We will taste through a carefully chosen selection of hand-crafted wines designed to demonstrate the simplicity of understanding vino while breaking it down Lush style. Come to our class and find out what wine is all about! Please email or call Kelly (kelly@lushwineandspirits.com, 312.666.6900) to ask questions or reserve your seat in class by credit card. All classes are 6:30-8pm, unless otherwise noted. All classes will be taught at our WEST TOWN location (1412 W. Chicago), unless otherwise noted. *Read the fine type or suffer the consequences! The class in non-refundable, so go all in or not at all. CLASS costs $35. MINIMUM of 10 students.

THE WIDE WORLD OF SAKE — rescheduled, stay tuned!
We are excited to welcome guest lecturer Mason Horowitz to LUSH to talk about all things sake! Mason works for Joto Sake, one of the premier sake importers to the United States. Joto is Japanese for ‘highest level’ and it quite aptly describes Joto’s producers as well as their aspirations as their importer. Joto’s breweries could also be described as jizake, or ‘local.’ They are located in different regions of Japan, produce their sake in small batches and primarily use locally raised rice. They have unique stories and contrasting flavors and styles. Joto makes a point to not only select the finest breweries, but also put an emphasis on educating the public on the oft-misunderstood sake. Join us as Mason takes us through the ins and outs of this delicious rice beverage and snag a bottle or two for your next BYO sushi excursion.

AUSTRALIAN WINE 101 — Sunday, August 1st

There is more to Australian wine than meets the eye. Between the mass-produced world of Yellow Tail and the cult-status stylings of Penfolds and Ben Glaetzer lies a whole world of terroir-specific, hand-crafted, artisinal wines that you don’t hear much about. Shiraz is the big name grape, but Australia also puts out some of the finest New World riesling, cabernet, chardonnay, grenache, and semillon. Australia is also a treasure-trove of experimentation: you’ll find such grapes as zinfandel, albarino, verdelho, pinot gris, and gamay being planted. There is much to know in terms of regions too: Barossa Valley might be the most famous, but the regions of Australia offer a case study in different climates and landscapes. From Hunter Valley to Margaret River, Adelaide to McClaren Vale, there are distinct regional differences around the country. The wines of Australia have gotten a reputation as being flashy and chock full of alcohol and fruit, but they can also display finesse, elegance, and a distinct expression of place and variety.

AMERICAN WHISKEY — Sunday, August 22nd
Scotch has certainly earned its spot at the top of the whisk(e)y hierarchy, with centuries of distillation and tradition, but American whiskey is nipping at its heels. Right now, if you haven’t noticed, there is a bit of an aged American whiskey shortage. No one knew ten — or even five — years ago that these spirits would be so popular! Bourbon and Rye are taking center stage in the American cocktail Renaissance, along with being many connoisseurs’ sippers of choice. We are also seeing incredible innovation — ‘single malts’ from Oregon and Colorado, wheat whiskey from Kentucky, and small batch ‘four grain’ bourbon from upstate New York, among others. It is an exciting time to be making and drinking American Whiskey, and there is much to know. We’ll go through the history of our homegrown spirits, how they’re made, and how best to drink them (this will be the most fun part!). Jump on the bandwagon, and discover what all the fuss is about.

VINOS DE JEREZ — Thursday, August 26th
The ultimate wine geek wine, Sherry — aka ‘Vinos de Jerez’ — is one of the most (if not THE most) misunderstood beverages on the planet. When I say Sherry, you think of something that Grandma drank or Mom added to her cooking. But there’s another side to these wines that the Spanish cognoscenti has been trying to tell us about for years. In the multitude of sherry types and styles lays a plethora of mind-blowing, meal-matching, and palate-pleasing wines. Slightly fortified, with varying degrees of oxidation caused by the mysterious and elusive yeast film called flor, vinos de Jerez are perhaps the most unique and site-specific wines made. Trust us on this one. This class will open you up to a whole world of wines you never knew existed.

*CUSTOMIZE your own class. Bring some friends…pick a date and a course topic. Email kelly@lushwineandspirits.com to find out more details.

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LUSH Weekly Email: Blind Tasting

May 28, 2009 at 3:08 pm (BYOB, class, Current Events, Special Events, What we are eating, What we are thinking, What we're drinking) (, , , , )

Oops, it happened again.  Posted here for your perusing pleasure…

I apologize profusely for the horrifying event of last week…you did not receive your weekly LUSH email.  GASP.  Apparently our email utility people were napping.  But, no worries, this is a fair representation of the information you missed last week, minus my suggestions for a glorious Memorial Day weekend, but I am sure y’all did quite well with partying and enjoying the beautiful weather!

P.S.  My coolest cousin, Ms. Alice, will be buzzing into town for a sweet visit with an old family friend, Ms. Lucy.  We all grew up together in the Ozark National Forest in Arkansas…running, climbing, playing in the mud and the garden, swimming, and delving into general mischief and mayhem.  They may be hanging out, causing trouble at LUSH next week!

Hoooweee, put it in my glass!

I am not so sure about y’all, but I am very tempted to slip off my sneakers, run around barefoot for a while, and go play outside.  Granted, any playtime deserves a nice, chilly bottle of pink or white wine.  Or a sixer of local pilsner.  Venture out to see us…we have bottles open to sample for (shhh!) free.  And, we are local, friendly, and like to share.

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French Wine Series: Sessions 2 & 3

March 23, 2009 at 9:35 pm (class, French Wine) (, , , , , , )

We just finished up the final session in our French series last night. And what a way to end it, focusing on the wines of Bordeaux and Champagne! Two heavy hitting regions that can be rather intimidating, we wanted to provide an overview of the terroir, the grapes used, how the wines are made, and important information for buying wines from these areas. And we wanted to open wines that would demonstrate the variety that each region has to offer! The wines we poured were:

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French Wine Class: Session One

March 9, 2009 at 3:36 pm (class, French Wine) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Last night we taught the first in our series of three classes on French wine. The focus of the first class was the wines of Alsace, Loire, Languedoc, and the Madiran. These are some of my favorite regions in all of France (hell, all of the world!). So many delicious wines, different terroirs, and exciting winemakers. We chose to group these regions together because of some similarities in winemaking mentality and aesthetics. These are smaller regions, for the most part (okay, the Loire Valley is about 700 miles long!), with the best producers being small, family owned wineries. A lot of these producers are proponents of non-interventionist and biodynamic winemaking, really fulfilling the legacy of terroir so painstakingly implemented by the AOC system. Read the rest of this entry »

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Birthday Brewing at BevArt in Beverly.

February 11, 2009 at 6:55 pm (Beer, class, What we're drinking) (, , , , , , , )

by Ms. Rachel Driver, Manager of LUSH

Way back in November, I set up a beer brewing class for Michael’s birthday down at Bev Art in the Beverly neighborhood of Chicago. Bev Art is the fantasically grassroots, hands-on project of Mr. Greg Fischer. The shop is a jumble of wine and beer making supplies, as well as grapes from California, and bottling equipment. Across the street, on the ‘wet’ side of Beverly, Mr. Fischer has a classroom setup for the actually brewing of wine, beer, and mead. He has been homebrewing and tinkering with winemaking since he was quite young…and has been teaching the process for at least 15 years. Greg is lively and eccentric…just the type of guy I want to get educated by.

BEV ART, 10033 South Western, Chicago, IL 60643. (773) 233-7579.

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Getting excited by research!

March 7, 2008 at 9:04 pm (class) (, )

The classes that we teach here at Lush always require a good amount of research and preparation on the part of our staff, but this upcoming Cabernet Cage Match (3/10, University Village Lush) has me doing even more work than I had anticipated.

Fortunately, all that extra work has been of the eager, voluntary variety.  Truth be told, Cabernet Sauvignon varietal wines have fallen off my radar a bit recently.  Not that I don’t enjoy them (quite the opposite), but I’ve focused my drinking on some of the weirder and rarer varietals and producers recently.  Only so much drinking can be done at a time, and poor ol’ Cab Sav became a less frequent friend.

Nothing like a few weeks of reading to change that, though!  Pauillac, Margaux, Rutherford, oh my!  Lining up the fighters for our upcoming battle has certainly whet my palate, and it appears my coworkers share the same excitement.  It feels like the days before Christmas, waiting for relatives from out-of-state to pull into the driveway for the yearly visit.  I can’t wait, Cab!  It’s been too long; I’ll see you soon!

 Posted by Lance

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