Market Alley Wine FAQ
Do you make your own wines?
No. Market Alley Wines is not a winery but rather a retail shop of fabulous wines and gifts from all over the world.
Where do your wines come from?
The wines we choose come from all over the world! We stock many from the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Italy, France, South Africa, etc Our inventory is always changing and evolving. There is always something new to discover.
Do you carry any regional wines?
We occasionally offer some seasonal selections from regional wineries but prefer you buy regional wines directly from those area winemakers.
Do you serve lunch?
Well, only if you are a very light eater! Market Alley Wines offers a lovely selection of snack plates that vary week to week. Some of the staples include house-made spreadable beer cheese, olive tapenade, cheese curds, hummus and mixed cheese plates.
Can I bring my own food and desserts?
Sure. Just try to let us know in advance.
Do you offer any informational classes?
Yes! We don't have a regular schedule, but we do offer classes such as Tasting 101, Wine and Food Pairings, etc. Check our events page and Facebook pages for upcoming date.
I am looking for a specific wine. Can you find it and order me some?
Well, maybe. We will try out hardest to seek out the distributor of your wine. By law, we have to buy our wine through a licensed distributor and not all wineries have Illinois distribution. Even some that do may not be available in our area. But we can sure try! Most special order wines require a minimum of 3 bottles and some may be a case though. We'll let you know.
Do you ship wine?
We do not ship wine.
Can you make a wine basket for any amount?
Yes! If you've been in our store, you've seen the most beautiful, one-of-a-kind baskets we offer. These aren't those generic, plain ones you see everywhere else. These are truly spectacular and amazing! Depending on your wine choice and extras, they generally start at $20 and can go to several hundred dollars. But really, every one is unique and will dazzle! We can also do corporate orders and will deliver baskets in our area if possible.
Can I just buy a bottle off you shelf and drink it in the store?
Sure you can! We charge a $5 corkage fee plus the cost of the bottle. We can also cork and bag any wine you don't drink and you can take it home legally in a sealed bag.
Can I host a bridal shower/birthday party/ class reunion, etc. in our shop?
We love to host parties! Just give us a call or stop by to work out the details.
About Wine Ratings
Many you have asked about the wine rating cards we have on many of our wines bottles. Why do some have scores and others don't? What do the scores mean? Where do the scores come from and how are they determined? Are they reliable? Aren't they controversial? Why should I care if someone else thinks a wine is good?
We are fortunate at Market Alley Wines to be able to taste most of our wines before we purchase them. If we like them and think you will like them, we buy them. Our goal is to give our customers a large selection of really good, very affordable wine. But sometimes, we buy a wine because it has a good rating. Because in truth, good ratings help sell wine.
We have many wines that have not been rated either because they are new vintages, come from small production vineyards or haven't been submitted to publications (or as some ratings cynics my argue, the wineries don't pay for ads in certain publications.) That doesn't mean they aren't worthy of a high score. It simply means they haven't been rated by the main sources.
The four most trusted and used ratings come from the Wine Enthusiast, Wine Spectator, Wine Advocate and International Wine Cellar. The scores use a 100 point scale. Below is the standard from Wine Enthusiast:
Wine Enthusiast Scores:
- 95-100 -- Superb. One of the greats.
- 90-94 -- Excellent. Extremely well made and highly recommended.
- 85-89 -- Very good. May offer outstanding value if the price is right.
- 80-84 -- Good. Solid wine, suitable for everyday consumption.
Keep in mind, those wines that score 85 to 89 are VERY GOOD wines at a great value.
The Wine Enthusiast
Wine Enthusiast wine ratings are based on tastings by the magazine's editors and other qualified tasting panelists, either individually or in a group setting. Tastings are conducted blind or in accordance with accepted industry practices. Price is not a factor in assigning scores to wines. Only wines scoring 80 points or higher are published. Accepts advertising. (wine.com)
All tastings are conducted "blind." Tasters are told the type of wine (varietal or region) and vintage. Flawed wines or wines that score very highly are re-tasted. European wines are sometimes tasted in the districts that yield them, where fresher, perfectly stored examples will be readily available. Wine ratings are based on how good a wine will be when it reaches its peak, regardless of how soon that will be. If barrel samples are being rated rather than finished wines, that is revealed. Accepts advertising. (wine.com)
The Wine Advocate
Robert Parker is a renowned wine critic and publisher of The Wine Advocate. Over the past few years, Parker has brought on other reviewers to join the publication. Note that an RP next to a wine means that it was rated by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, not necessarily Robert Parker himself.
Tastings are conducted in peer group, single-blind conditions, which means the same types of wines are tasted against each other and the wineries' names are not revealed, so neiher price nor the reputation of the winery influences the rating in any way. If tasted several times, the scores represent a cumulative average. Overall, the score assigned to a specific wine reflects the quality of the wine at its best. Parker encourages readers to rely on the score with the written notes rather than the score alone. Does not accept advertising. (wine.com)
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Wines are scored relative to their peer group based on their expected quality during their period of peak drinkability. A "+" after a score denotes a wine that is likely to merit a higher rating in the future. All wines rated 90 or better are highly recommended additions to your cellar (or, where indicated, for drinking over the near term); wines rated at least 85 are recommended bottles that should provide pleasurable drinking. Precise scores are provided only for wines in bottle; ranges are offered for unfinished wines. (wine.com)
Ultimately, you are the most important judge of what you like to drink. The ratings are just one way to help us find a wine that you love!
What Are tannins?
Tannins are chemical compounds that effect the color, aging and taste of the wine. Tannins are often responsible for the "drying" feeling you taste with a wine near the end of a swallow. That drying is often seen as a desirable component of the whole "mouthfeel" of a wine, enhancing the overall experience if balanced properly.
For a more detailed explanation, see this Wikipedia article.
What does an “oaky” flavor mean?
When wine is aged with oak, the characteristics of the wood interact with the wine to effect the taste. Oak can be introduced to wine by agin in oak barrels or adding oak chops or oaks staves to the wine.
The yeast in the wine binds with the oak, effecting the flavor and often adding the "vanilla" flavors you find in wine. Oak can also be "toasted" or charred, which also effects the flavor.
For a complete description, check out this Wikipedia article.
How do I get out a red wine stain?
Remember that red wine is grape juice, and it can be nasty, so work quickly!
First, combine equal parts liquid dish detergent and hydrogen peroxide in a bowl. Sponge or pour the mixture over the red wine stain and let stand for a minute to pre-soak.
Next, gently blot the stained area. The hydrogen peroxide and soap formula help remove discoloration. Continue to blot until the stain can no longer be seen. The garment can then be put in the laundry machine as usual. Cool water is usually best. Be sure to check care labels for special instructions.
Do I really need to drink white wine with fish?
Absolutely not! The best advice, for any pairing, is to go with what you like.
That being said, the reason white wine is often associated with fish is that fish has such a delicate flavor that pairs will with a lighter white wine. Think about the intensity of flavors in your food - more intense flavors can stand up to a bolder wine.