Anyone blogging these days is getting a bird’s eye view of being a publisher, as we receive all the daily pitches. Some stories are great and innovative; while others are more of the, “Well, at least you’ve read my name, so I’ve successfully continued my branding strategy.”

This query was short and sweet, but really caught my eye as something pretty creative. While John and Erica Witte of Illinois will have a moment’s publicity on the Internet with this story, they are – more importantly – sharing a really creative way for a retailer to advance wine education in a localized area, while also contributing to their own making a living in the process.

Here’s their pitch:

My wife and I own ThePoisonCup, a small wine shop in Lincoln Park, which features small production wines and doubles as an art gallery/event space. We rotate different local artists out every couple of months making for a very dynamic little space. Aside from the usual wine tastings and our popular blind tasting competitions and artist openings, we have recently started putting together wine and beer dinners at BYOB restaurants such as Las Tablas and 90 Miles Cuban Cafe. We pair our wines with menus that these restaurants put together for us and basically make a very fun evening out of it.

We are especially excited about an upcoming dinner series that we are putting together with Chef Joncarl Lachman from Home Bistro. Beginning in mid-April, each dinner will feature the wine and food of a specific wine region. Basically, we pick a different region and Chef Joncarl creates the menu to match. We are kicking things off with a Loire Valley Spring Dinner on April 11th at 7:00 p.m.

We would certainly appreciate all of the publicity we can get. We hope you might consider blogging about them (or perhaps attending) at some point. I think they make for a rather unique offering.

So, Off I went to their Website: ThePoisonCup.

If you click on the art, “Pink Vase” is a tattered center piece that is almost identical to one that  my grandmother made and I still have, eons of years ago. What a rush. I got my piece out, and was reminded what art my piece is as captured by Lois Eakin. Lois is their artist of the month through April.

The opening reception is March 10. Honestly, if I lived in their neighborhood, I’d be one of their customers. I’ve always loved art with wine as a natural complement. As you peruse their Website, you’ll also enjoy music and feel like you’re listening to the soundtrack of a French film… Mon Dieu!

This is all very classy, and so much more than dashing off to your favorite wine shop for Friday night’s bottle of wine. The Francophile inside of me found this a very comfortable business, and has me wishing that it was closer to my home base. (I’ve been listing to their music the entire time I’ve been writing this, by having another window open. The music is very enticing.)

So – the word to retailers here – pay attention to what John and Erica are doing for increasing wine education and wine sales with BYOB restaurants. They’re pairing their wines with menus that these restaurants put together for them, and basically make a very fun evening out of it.