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Michael not only shares a passion for wine, his enthusiasm spills everywhere. He urges you to make pairings fun, and finds plenty to play with at Mariano’s. Michael majored in theatre in California, attended the exclusive International Sommelier Alliance, and worked the harvest in Burgundy and Champagne. Then he came home to Chicago. At the Hotel Peninsula, he met Chef Curtis Duffy, and the two started Grace in 2011. Michael, a James Beard Award nominee, now spends time polishing their three Michelin Stars, and reigns as one of Food & Wine’s Sommeliers of the Year.

food tip

Finding a wine to enjoy with dessert can be daunting. Michael, never bashful, matches sweet with sweet. He suggests the clean effervescence of a sparkling wine, maybe the Moscato d’Asti from Cascinetta Vieta.

food tip

Despite founding one of Chicago’s most impressive restaurants, Michael reminds us, “you don’t have to take wine seriously all the time.” Hitting the couch with a bowl of popcorn or chips? Open up a Rosé.

food tip

When you think of spicy food, you might see red. Michael says no, “that will actually crank up the spice of the dish.” He advises a dry white instead, perhaps a Riesling, with a bit of sweetness that will tone down the spice.

Kiki Luthringshausen

meet your host

Kiki Luthringshausen is a reformed interior designer of 15 years who fell into her dream job in 2010 as an Epicurean Entertainer. Prior to her big career change, Kiki was a lifestyle expert and writer for local publications and a contributor for live news segments for local affiliates ABC, NBC, WGN and CBS. She is now the official ambassador of Mariano’s and can be seen hosting culinary events around town. As a freelance food and lifestyle writer, she’s also the author behind the popular food blog Beauty and Her Feast. Entrenched in the food industry, Kiki frequents the city’s hottest restaurants while clinking glasses with the most sought after chefs. It’s why she’s the perfect host for Mariano’s Tastemaker series.

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