All it takes is walking into a Smith & Wollensky restaurant during Wine Week. With that one action, you can capture the energy, the excitement, and the pure pleasure people are finding in great food and wines.
Where else can you get an education in wines . . . sample a variety of wines . . . pair them with amazing food and impeccable service . . . and network with colleagues, friends and clients at the same time?
That’s what Wine Week at Smith & Wollensky is all about. It’s a chance to sample some of their great offerings, knowing that what you learn will bring you back for more.
The Chicago location opened its doors to us so we could discover what Wine Week is all about.
If you ask the restaurant manager, it’s about hospitality. Regina Arendt, General Manager of the Chicago location, told us, “Wine Week is a great tradition started 25 years ago. The originator of Smith & Wollensky invited his guests in to try some new fabulous wines from a lot of great vineyards around the country and around the world. We’ve continued that tradition; 25 years later here we are at our 50th event!”
If you ask the chef, it’s about the wine and food pairings. Mark Chmielewski, Executive Chef, said, “I love the rush of Wine Week, and the buzz I hear when I walk into the dining room. It’s people having a great time, enjoying their food, and matching it up with all the different wine pairings that we have.”
And, if you ask a guest, it’s something they look forward to all year. Trey Morris, a Senior Account Executive with Chicago’s 97.1, The Drive (WDRV), said, “We’ve been coming to Wine Week for the last four years and every time we probably get three or four days worth of tables and bring all our clients. It’s something we look forward to all year long, and our clients absolutely love Wine Week at Smith & Wollensky.”
Morris added, “The wine is by far our favorite part; you can’t beat it. Traditionally I’m not a big wine person but when I come to Wine Week they really tell us a lot about each of the different types of wines we’re drinking and how they pair with what we’re eating. It’s been really educational and fun.”
With that combination of hospitality and memorable experience, you have the essence of Wine Week.
This year there is an added aura of celebration, thanks to the introduction of a new signature wine for Smith & Wollensky. It’s a “Private Reserve” Sauvignon Blanc, and it has been the talk of the opening days of the event.
Guest Ken Dow, with Morgan Stanley, praised the new wine. “When I first saw it on the menu, I was interested,” he said. “In the past I’ve tasted the cabernet reserve and I was really interested in the white. I have to say it was very good. Very smooth, with a nice crispiness, not too citrusy but a little--it was very fresh.”
P.J. O’Connor, Smith & Wollensky’s Wine Steward in Chicago, was also excited about showcasing the new wine, as well as balancing it with the daily selection of wines. During Wine Week, guests may sample ten different wines each day for just $10 with the purchase of an entrée. O’Connor said, “We put together the best wines twice a year. We pick out the best with our partners in California, Italy, France, Spain, all over. We do this to show people the difference between wines.”
He continued, “We have some of the growers come in to pour the wines and explain the difference between the wines and how they are made. Wine Week is great because it gives everybody—even the people who know very little about wine—the chance to learn. It is great because people can find out more about wine in that week than they would in a lifetime!”
Dow echoed that experience, and added, “Over the last couple of years I’ve developed a real strong passion for wines and I think Smith & Wollensky does a really good job of allowing you to sample a lot of good wines with very good food. I’ve been trying to learn more about good types of wines, and exploring them a little more.”
Wine Week, as you might expect, is also about the food and how various menu items pair well with food. The new Sauvignon Blanc, for example, pairs well with the Grilled Salmon Beurre Blanc, one of the choices on the Wine Week Prix Fixe Lunch Menu.
One of the popular items on that Prix Fixe menu pairs well with the Smith & Wollensky signature red: the Beef Tenderloin Duo. In fact, from our viewpoint you’ll find little more intriguing than the Duo. Will you prefer the filet medallion with roasted garlic and cippolini onions, or the one with fois gras mushroom ragout? Hmmm . . . you may just have to try another bite of each!
What it all comes down to is this: Wine Week is an experience. As Arendt said, “We have a wide variety of clientele; we have quite a few business people that come here. We also have friends who get together twice a year and they come here to spend it with us! It’s a social gathering and kind of a networking time, all at once.”
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