Sommelier Marie Cheslik solemnly concerns her glass of pink wine. “She real pink,” she says. “Like nights at the strip club pink.” She swirls it gently with a kind of simple and easy self-confidence worthwhile of a sommelier who has been accredited by the Court of Master Sommeliers, reduces her nose, and inhales.
” On the nose I get sour gummy worms– the pink and blue ones, obviously,” she says. “Those Smucker’s strawberry lip glosses, fairy floss, or a casual sex with somebody who operates at the carnival.”
It’s a frank evaluation of 19 Criminal activities Snoop Dogg Cali Rosé, and one that neatly encapsulates the ethos of Slik Red wines, the wine education and event brand Cheslik co-founded in 2020 with Kyla Peal, a fellow sommelier and alum of Michelin-starred Elske in the West Loop. Together, they’ve created a service grounded in deep understanding layered with a profane, clearly of-the-moment vibe– which means they publish their evaluations, including this one, on TikTok and Instagram. Leveraging social media savvy and a robust network in Chicago’s red wine neighborhood, the pair’s growing audience hints an interesting brand-new chapter in the often neglected scene.
For Peal and Cheslik, who are also curating the February selections for Eater Red wine Club– Eater’s regular monthly wine subscription– Chicago’s under-the-radar status in the red wine world isn’t a downside. Rather, it’s an opportunity to ditch the exclusion and elitism frequently related to the market.
” The Midwest is never ever part of the wine discussion, that makes it a fantastic platform where anything goes,” says Cheslik. “We don’t live in Napa or Sonoma where you require to like x, y, z– there are no pretensions.”
Slik initially launched in August 2020 as a mostly virtual endeavor, rolling with the pandemic punches and holding tastings and instructional events for investment companies, ad agencies, and other private corporate groups. This consistent earnings stream, together with the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations and higher public comfort with in-person gatherings, has actually allowed Cheslik and Peal to offer pay-what-you-can tastings and establish collaborations with hospitality industry good friends at areas like Kasama in West Town and Lula Coffee Shop in Logan Square. Next, they intend to start featuring regular monthly blind tastings at All Together Now in Ukrainian Town.
Virtual and in-person events permit Peal and Cheslik to bypass the atmosphere of snobbery that can penetrate conversations about white wine. “I had a love-hate relationship with wine when I initially entered the fine dining world,” says Peal. “There’s a stigma connected– traditional somms who run under the impression that if you do not know the basic terminology, it’s not worth discussing or teaching.”
In time, nevertheless, conference wine experts– including Cheslik and Melissa Zeman of red wine and spirits merchant Suppresses in Lakeview– who spoke about their operate in a manner in which felt interesting rather than intimidating assisted Peal see white wine as a way of forging connections with patrons and along with her peers. As she watches an increasing tide of interest in white wine across the city, she’s thrilled to see brand-new businesses that share core qualities with her own but draw in different audiences.
” I simply like that there’s a lot of various ways to get to wine recently,” she states. “Slik is service based– we’re concentrated on tasting and education– however, state, Los Naturales in Pilsen has a different demographic: young Millennials and Gen Z who wish to put some natty shit.”
” There’s plenty [of company] for everybody,” Cheslik verifies. “The more individuals we fulfill, the more generous individuals are– it’s a huge pond.”