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I’m always looking for things to do around campus, especially if the word free is involved and the event involves free food and drinks. That usually means conferences, conventions or speaking events. Don’t get me wrong, I love taking advantage of the plethora of speakers that our campus provides … but sometimes I feel like a freshman who has lost her dining hall privileges. There is, however, one weekly event that won’t make you feel bad about mooching: Krannert Uncorked.

Every Thursday from 5–7pm, the Krannert Center hosts a free wine tasting with cheese and crackers provided. I’ve known about Krannert’s wine tasting for a while now since my roommate works there, but it wasn’t until very recently that I was allowed to go. Ah, the powers of being 21. Each week different businesses serve and provide the wine. Well-informed servers describe the wine to you, giving their personal favorites. Last week, a few wines were offered and served by Jim Gould: Colterenzio Gewurtztraminer (Italy), Alto Adige (Italy), Cantos de Valpiedra (Spain) and Woop Woop Shiraz (Australia). My personal favorite (and the representative from Jim Gould’s favorite) was the Cantos De Valpiedra, a spicy, fruity bitter wine perfect for consumption after trekking through the howling winds of Champaign-Urbana.

Patron Services Supervisor Joey Salas (also my roommate) let me know that local bands also perform at Krannert Uncorked on the first and third Thursday every month. Last week jazz band Petersome Threesome performed on Krannert’s Stage 5, adding a nice mellow backdrop to the evening. The lights are dimmed, casual seating is set up and the lobby is filled with the chattering of students, professors, locals and wine enthusiasts alike. While the wine tasting and cheeses are free, if you’d like something more substantial there is full bar with an hors d’oeuvres menu.

This Thursday, Krannert will be providing wines in partnership with Friar Tuck, the premiere boozatorium in town. It’ll be the second to last Uncorked of the semester, but no worries as Uncorked is a weekly event all year round. It’s a great way to get a taste of several kinds of wine without breaking the bank. And think about how positively cultured you will sound when you say, “Oh, I’m heading over to the wine tasting this evening.”

Photograph courtesy of Sarah Syman