|Sommelier: Brian Duncan of Bin 36—Chicago, IL
by Katherine Martinelli and JJ Proville
Brian Duncan is the Wine Director of Chicago’s Bin 36 and A Mano restaurants, which boast one of the most exciting wine programs in the area. Duncan’s mission is to share his love of wine by making it accessible to everyone.
Duncan rounds out his innovative selection with wines that he purchases at auctions or discovers in his travels (Australia, Austria, Italy, Germany, Argentina, France, Greece, California, Washington and Oregon in the past few years alone). While rare wines often have high price tags, Duncan’s list proves that this does not have to be the case: He has a strong list of wines that will not require a second mortgage.
Brian’s most recent venture has been the creation of the retail BIN 36 Wines brand. Partnering with Hahn Estate vineyards, Duncan selects specific clones to handcraft the most complex and interesting wines. Based on quality and availability, he determines the proportions and percentages of the blends and the types of wood used to age them.
Duncan has also produced a number of in-house vintages that are served and sold only at BIN 36, called Brian’s Blends. “I wanted to partner with winemakers that I know personally and whose commitment to quality I was already familiar with. I can count on the quality from these vineyards, and have more control over the final blend, as opposed to purchasing pre-made wine and putting my label on it. I’m interested in creating wines that both accompany food well and drink beautifully on their own,” says Duncan.
Duncan’s passion for wine includes a desire to create a whole new generation of wine drinkers by doing everything possible to add to his guests’ wine knowledge. At all of his restaurants, Duncan writes accessible and exciting wine descriptions for the wines and meets with the staff on a daily basis in tandem with Executive Chef John Caputo to discuss interesting food and wine pairings. In addition, Duncan has developed BIN School, which addresses various levels in learning about wine and food and wine synergy, and the “Discovery Series,” an interactive series of seminars that includes executive training for creating win-win dining and wining situations. These classes explain everything from choosing a restaurant and wine selections to making sure your guests are treated like royalty.
339 North Dearborn Street
Chicago, IL 60654