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Vin Chicago Blog


Meet Washington State Native and Certified Sommelier Jim Matthews!

Vin Chicago Bio!

- Jim Matthews –



Always ready to greet you with a smile and a handshake, Jim's love, passion and enthusiasm for wine is as strong as his customer service. A member of our team for 22 years, he first joined us in 1992 at our former Forest Park location. In 2007 he helped open our store in Barrington where he's been ever since. In addition to working for us, Jim has taught wine appreciation classes at College of DuPage, was a wine columnist for North Shore Magazine and hold his Level II Certified Sommelier certificate from the Court of Master Sommeliers.



What is your favorite wine region?


I enjoy wines from most of the world's wine regions, so picking a favorite region is like trying to pick a favorite song or movie. However, the wine region that's most familiar to me is Washington state. I was born in a small town located I what is now the Columbia Valley AVA, and I still have family there today. Over the years I've toured nearly 30 wineries during my trips visiting family. I try to stay abreast of the Washington wine scene, although with nearly 800 wineries today, it becomes more and more challenging.




What was the last special bottle of wine you popped at home?


At a recent dinner party, I served an older Washington State wine (naturally) from one of the state's most acclaimed wineries, Cayuse. We enjoyed their En Chamberlin Vineyard Syrah 2006. It was delicious, nicely evolved and showed all the hallmarks of an outstanding Syrah.




What other products have you worked with besides wine?


For several years I worked for a small company that conducted sensory evaluations of various food products from large food producers and national restaurant chains such as Jimmy Dean and McDonald's. Many of the same factors used to evaluate wine - color, aromas, taste and body - come into play while tasting food products, with extra time and attention given to the food's texture. During the Jimmy Dean evaluation, I tasted so many sweet and savory breakfast sausages that I never wasn't to taste another one! We also tasted countless coffee samples before arriving at the specific roast that is featured today at all of the McDonald's restaurants.




What was the most exciting wine you've ever tasted?


Without question, the most exciting, complex wine I've ever tasted was the 1982 Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion from Bordeaux. I had purchased a case on futures and have cellared it since. At a dinner with friends several years ago, I opened it alongside three other Bordeaux wines from the same vintage. The La Mission was the star of the show and the most complex wine I've ever tasted with all sorts of secondary aromas and flavors to go along with the surprisingly vibrant fruit for a wine that's three decades old. It was truly remarkable.

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