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Vin Chicago Blog

 

Meet Our Barrington Manager Jennifer Blair!

Vin Chicago Bio!

- Jennifer Blair –

 

We often wonder what type of background best qualifies someone to work for Vin Chicago. Being a wine lover is a must. We've also found that people who thrive in the restaurant business are likely a good fit for our fast-paced, customer-driven atmosphere. Not only does Jennifer Blair meet these criteria, she also worked for many years as an officer in the DuPage County juvenile detention center. The last few years have been eventful for Jen. Like so many folks at Vin Chicago, she is working her way through the Court of Master Sommeliers' certification program. She aced her exam to become a Certified Sommelier with the highest grades in her class earning a scholarship towards her Level III certificate. Even more exciting she and her husband welcomed a baby girl into the world last year! Jen now manages our Barrington location – a well-earned promotion while still on maternity leave. Jen's knowledge and capabilities are exceptional, and her enthusiasmis utterly infectious.

 

What is your first wine memory?

When I was in my early 20s, I worked evening shift at the juvenile detention center. We'd get out around 10pm and go over to a friend's house to have a drink and play some cards. My co-worker/friend was very knowledgeable regarding food, wine and beer. He introduced me to aged cheeses, like 5 year old Gouda and 10 year old Hooks Cheddar, and the different Prädikat levels of Riesling. I had no idea that Riesling could put out such levels of quality or that there was such a thing as Eiswein! The crisp, clean Riesling with the crumbly aged cheese was an "Aha" moment for me. It was the first time I really considered drinking anything other than beer!

 

What do you do outside the wine world?

I love spending time with my family, they are the most important thing to me. I have a baby daughter and a fantastically supportive husband. We frequently attend Sunday dinner at my parents' house to hang out with my extended family. When the budget allows I love to travel! There is a great big world out there and I want to see it all! Anyone who works with me will tell you I love to eat (is that a bad thing?). I love to try new restaurants. I also enjoy bike riding and pilates.

 

Any wines in your cellar that you're holding for a special occasion?

When I first started getting into wine, I went out and bought Wine for Dummies book, because I found it the least intimidating one on the shelf. I'd study a section and then get really excited and tell my husband all about it. I remember relating to him the 4 first growths of Bordeaux and how in 1973 Chateau Mouton Rothschild, after much lobbying and drama, got promoted to first growth (which was the only time in history that had ever happened). I guess he was listening to all of my wine chatter, because for Christmas that year he bought me a 2003 Chateau Mouton Rothschild. I haven't decided what special occasion we will drink that for yet.

 

What's your favorite wine region?

This is a tough one. Champagne is probably my desert island wine, but my favorite overall region would be Piedmont. When I first started drinking wine I gravitated towards Italy, mostly Chiantis and Barberas. I read up on them and bought wines to taste. I fell in love with the crisp whites like Arneis and reds of Nebbiolo. They are such great food wines. My husband and I had the opportunity to vacation in Italy two years ago and Piedmont was a must for me! We visited some producers that we carry in the store, like Ghiomo, Vajra, Ettore Germano, and Paolo Scavino. I was blown away by their hospitality and humbled by their generosity! You see the vineyards, eat the cuisine, and talk to the winemakers and it just all seems to make sense when you visit the "spiritual home" of Nebbiolo

Meet Advanced Sommelier Michael Matonte!
Meet Advanced Sommelier & Lead Buyer Mike Baker!
 

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