I had to include the word “experience” in the headline above because there is no other way to describe the Naperville Wine Festival, which will take place this Friday and Saturday (September 17-18, 2010) at one of my favorite places… the Naper Settlement in Downtown Naperville.
First and foremost, train it… cab it… do whatever you need to do to get into Downtown Naperville and keep yourself from being in the position of even thinking about driving home.
Based on my own personal experience, my strongest recommendation is to go in the evening hours just as daylight drifts toward the crisp Autumn night. There is a certain magic in the air when you combine an Autumn night, the Naper Settlement and your journey through an international array of wines.
You can taste away the night beneath the stars knowing that a portion of your admission proceeds goes to the Naperville Area Humane Society. Should raindrops crash the party, never fear… just cover your glasstic wine glass and the festival will march right on.
In terms of preparing yourself, I recommend eating something light before diving into the Festival as wine tastings are typically a bust on a full stomach and an early and disorienting night on an empty stomach.
There will be a number of local Naperville restaurants with food offerings at the Festival. To me, part of the true experience is to snack on a little something at the Festival to pace your tasting and then take a short walk into Downtown after you are finished for a late dinner at one of Naperville’s many fine local restaurants.
After you finish your late dinner, I recommend capping off the evening with some chocolate indulgence at Le Chocolat or one of the many night spots in Downtown Naperville. Should you subscribe to the ancient belief of “wine before beer, never fear” I recommend hitting the Grumpy Bulldog and watch your head spin for an entirely different reason as you enjoy the process of selecting a beer from their expansive global beer menu. If you need a little head start, click here. There is also Quigley’s Irish Pub for the best pint of Guiness in all of the Western Suburbs. Beyond that, there are many more bars, music and dancing throughout Downtown.
The bottom line is make your Naperville Wine Festival experience a full night out in Downtown Naperville. Pace yourself and most importantly, please please please do not drink and drive. Designate a sober driver whose evening entertainment will consist of laughing at you OR take advantage of Naperville’s many local cabs. Hope to see you there!
I invite you to share your own survival and enjoyment tips via a comment below. SM