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Since October Neiman Marcus on North Michigan Ave has been working on a complete renovation. Huge sections of the store are still closed off as work continues over the next year+. However, the new look is starting to show and we had the opportunity to celebrate the opening of the new Gift Galleries.

The department is still on the fourth floor, but is now in the space directly across from the Zodiac room. The new decor is bright with clean lines, and subtle detailing, showing off the merchandise well. Since the Gift Galleries Department sells all of the china and crystal they had demonstrations of each at the event, to help you host a sophisticated dinner at home.

Wine Tasting, Riedel demonstration Neiman Marcus Gift Galleries ChicagoThe first was a wine demonstration by Riedel Crystal. They used three different shapes of wine glasses to show how the glass changes the taste of the wine. We learned that when wine sits in the glass the aromas separate into layers with the alcohol at the bottom, followed by the greens, that is, the stems, seeds, and leaves. The next layer is the wood and the final layer is the floral.

Because of these layers the wine will have a different scent before it is swirled. You will initially smell the most volatile aromas, at which point you can tell if the wine has gone bad. To bring out the more subtle aromas and enjoy the complete scent of the wine swirl the glass to blend the layers.

The shape of the glass can change the aroma and taste rather dramatically. In the demonstration we had one taste of wine. It was poured into the glass on the left of the picture, it’s a common size and shape for red wine and was perfect for the demonstration wine. The flavors filled my mouth and finished with that great little bite in the back of the throat, that I love so much.

I was then instructed to pour the tasting into the glass on the far right. This glass is typically used for white wine. With its smaller bowl and more tapered top the flavors are tightened and the nose is more intense. This sample did not hit me in the back of the throat as I like. Some of the flavors were lost.

Finally, we poured the wine into the third glass, the one in the middle of the picture. This glass is designed for a more robust wine than we were tasting. Since it is the least tapered of the three the bouquet evaporates more quickly and the alcohol becomes more apparent, again I didn’t get that bite in the back of my throat.  I poured the remainder of the tasting back to the proper glass and enjoyed my last sip tremendously.

Another tip we learned is to use a microfiber cloth to dry crystal, it will help avoid water spots.

Capital Grille Plating Demonstration Neiman Marcus Chicago

The second demonstration was a plating demonstration by the sous chef of Capital Grille. He showed how to plate the four dishes above. First was the salad. He focused on giving the salad height by placing croutons underneath the greens. To finish off the look he used a clean damp cloth to wipe off any dressing that was out of place.

The soup was very creamy and thick so he was able to float little drops of olive oil on top as decoration and add three little potato chips in the center.

He chose the plate with the tree in the middle for the fish because the design on the plate can help separate the items of food. The piece of fish used was small, so he cut it into this slices and spread it along the plate, giving it the illusion of being larger. A little bit of parsley on the fish added some color and height to the dish.

For dessert he showed a creme brulee cheesecake. To create the creme brulee effect he sprinkled raw sugar over the cake and toasted it for just a few seconds with a torch. For decoration he chose some fresh berries and mint and he put three drops of berry sauce on the plate which he turned into teardrops by running a knife through the center.

Now at your next dinner party you can work backwards from their suggestions. Assuming you won’t be running out to buy new plates and wine glasses, you can choose foods that will look good on your plates. Pay attention to color, texture, and pattern. And you can choose the wine that works best with your glasses. The more flavor and complexity in the wine, the larger the bowl should be.

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