Sam's Wines & Spirits Names Chicago's Smartest Wine Consumer Ultimate Wine IQ Challenge Winner Earns $1,000 in Merchandise

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Fernando Baptista, a Rogers Park resident, has won the Ultimate Wine IQ Challenge sponsored by Sam's Wines & Spirits to find the smartest wine consumer in Chicago. Baptista won the contest and a $1,000 shopping spree at Sam's after three elimination rounds that culminated last week in a gameshow-style grand finale at the wine retailer's new South Loop store at 50 E. Roosevelt.

Fernando Baptista, a Rogers Park resident, has won the Ultimate Wine IQ Challenge sponsored by Sam's Wines & Spirits to find the smartest wine consumer in Chicago. Baptista won the contest and a $1,000 shopping spree at Sam's after three elimination rounds that culminated last week in a gameshow-style grand finale at the wine retailer's new South Loop store at 50 E. Roosevelt.

The five other finalists were John Hutzler, William Goldstein, Robert Knapp, Mark Larson and Sonya Park, all of the Chicago area. Each was awarded a $250 Sam's gift certificate for battling his or her way to the final round in the face of questions that would make most gameshow contestants turn in panic to their lifelines.

The contest began on October 6 with more than 150 contenders at Sam's stores in Lincoln Park, Highland Park and Downers Grove. In the early rounds, competitors had to answer questions ranging from the name of the primary grape in Taurasi to the term for the fungal rot that affects grapes used to make sweet wines such as Sauterne and Tokaji. They also participated in a series of blind tastings that tested their ability to distinguish wine varieties, regions and age simply by sipping.

The final round consisted of 14 even more difficult questions and three blind tastings, held in Sam's South Loop wine lounge with the finalists facing a panel of expert judges, wipe-off boards to hold their answers, and a scorekeeper posting their progress.

In one blind tasting of a 1997 Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Les Cazetiers Frederic Magnien, Burgundy, the six contestants were required to identify the grape variety, the age of the wine, and whether it was from the Old or New World. In another blind tasting of two 2006 Rieslings from Germany and Australia, they were asked to name the wine with less than 10% alcohol as well as the growing and producing regions of each.

"We designed this contest to find the most educated wine mind and palate in Chicago, and the questions were really demanding. Casual wine knowledge was not enough to win," said Brian Rosen, Sam's President and CEO. "Our grand prize winner and five runners-up earned their top spots because they are serious students of wine, and their wine cellars will now be stocked with the bottles of their choice to prove it."

About Sam's Wines & Spirits
Sam's Wines is the country's largest independent wine retailer based on annual gross sales volume, with four stores in the Chicago area that stock more than 8,000 wines, 2,500 spirits and 1,200 beers as well as a popular online store at http://www.samswine.com. Founded in 1946, the company has been honored as Retailer of the Year by both Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator magazines, has earned several Best of the Web awards from Forbes, and was recently named the best wine store in Lincoln Park by Chicago magazine.

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Robert Weiss
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