With all the time you've spent planning for the greatest Halloween ever, just look what's crept up on you: Sweetest Day on Saturday, October 21. Yeah, we know it's a crappy made-up holiday, but here's our thought: Why not use it as an excuse to drink a lot of wine? After you spend some time at these wine bars and festivals -- whether canoodling with your sweetest or just hanging with a close group of pals -- you'll be singing this dreaded Hallmark holiday's praises.
For: Outdoor oenophiles
The folks behind Embrace, Hinsdale's charming wine bar/boutique-hybrid, decided to give couples a daytime alternative to the traditional let's-go-out-for-dinner Sweetest Day routine with their first-ever Fall Wine Festival. The event will also commemorate the spot's first anniversary.
More than 10 wine distributors -- each offering at least 10 wines to taste -- will set up camp in a sprawling tent behind Embrace for a full day of swirling, sniffing and sipping. You can order a bottle of your favorite on-site through Hinsdale Wine Shop. Events director Kimberly Clements gave us a sneak preview of a few rosy-hued offerings: Duckhorn Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Cloudline Pinot Noir and Havens Merlot Carneros. Fill up on wine-friendly finger food such as Kobe beef sandwiches and chicken skewers, or feed your sweetie artisan cheese -- from the washed-rind ColoRouge to rich cow's-milk Green Hill -- from the Great American Cheese Collection.
For: Indoor imbibers
If you'd rather cozy up to your date indoors, head to Adelle's in Wheaton's College Avenue district, where they'll uncork three dessert wines in honor of the holiday, including Todd Hollow Amplexus Cremant, a fruity French sparkling wine, and Villa Giada's Andrea Moscato from Piemonte, Italy ($8-$10/glass).
At Cab's Wine Bar Bistro in Glen Ellyn, dessert wines easily couple up with sweet counterparts. Match the flourless chocolate cake drizzled with raspberry coulis ($5) with the sparkling Bansi Rosa Regale, or pair the bittersweet chocolate creme brulee ($5) with the Baroncini Il Santo, a honey-sweet, bronze-hued dessert wine.
You don't have to try to impress your sweetie with your wine IQ at downtown Wheaton's Tasting deVine; at this homey wine shop, you can get up-close and personal with the on-duty wine guru during a 7-wine tasting ($5). Wines on the October tasting roster include a late-harvest petit syrah, Oregon plum wine and Gewurztraminer, a spicy white with a German name and French origin. If you discover the bottle of your dreams (or you just like the sound of Gewurztraminer), you can share it at a table for two before heading out for dessert or dinner along historic Front Street.
Lisa Arnett is a metromix special contributor.