Shebnem Ince

Sommelier

Chicago

As the daughter of an avid wine collector, Shebnem Ince got hooked on wine after her first sip at the young age of eight. Thanks to her father, she was exposed to the classic French wine regions that only deepened her love for the vine. Ince spent nearly two decades in the restaurant business working with well-known chefs such as Tom Douglas (Dahlia Lounge), Paul Kahan (Blackbird) and Michael Kornick (MK). Her most recent restaurant post was as the wine director at The Gage and Henri in Chicago, where she spent six years. In 2013, the sommelier moved on from the stressful restaurant world. Ince joined Craig Perman at Perman Wine Selections, an independent wine shop in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood. She continues to work as a private restaurant consultant and freelance wine writer.

  • On April 8, 2013
    Shebnem Ince answered the question: Shebnem Ince

    What's Shebnem Ince's favorite wine region?

    Burgundy is definitely my favorite of all the wine regions. It’s the place I’ve visited the most, and it’s the place I love the most. Among the wineries there, Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier is a huge favorite of mine and then Jean-Marie Fourrier.
  • On April 8, 2013
    Shebnem Ince answered the question: Shebnem Ince

    What does Shebnem Ince wear when she travels?

    Layers of cotton, wool or silk — natural fabrics that breathe and dry really easily. Although wool doesn’t dry really easily, but silk and cotton do. If it gets hot, you can take things off. It’s typically very cold in cellars, especially in the winter — it can be low 50s to high 40s — so you need to have a lot of clothes on. You can get sick; it’s damp down there.
  • On April 8, 2013
    Shebnem Ince answered the question: Shebnem Ince

    What's Shebnem Ince's favorite airline?

    I hate flying. I’m a very nervous flier, so I have to drug myself. I tend to fly United. I know a lot of people have problems with United, but for me it’s always been relatively on time, and you can buy six inches of extra legroom, which is important. United’s online ticketing system and the reminders are pretty nice. It usually has really up-to-date flight information if you’re going to be delayed or whatever.

    I’ve heard that Virgin is a great airline, but it doesn’t go to enough places yet for me being based out of Chicago. I’d like to try it sometime because I’ve heard it’s a completely different experience, but I haven’t had a chance yet.
  • On April 8, 2013
    Shebnem Ince answered the question: Shebnem Ince

    What's Shebnem Ince's favorite airline?

    I hate flying. I’m a very nervous flier, so I have to drug myself. I tend to fly United. I know a lot of people have problems with United, but for me it’s always been relatively on time, and you can buy six inches of extra legroom, which is important. United’s online ticketing system and the reminders are pretty nice. It usually has really up-to-date flight information if you’re going to be delayed or whatever.

    I’ve heard that Virgin is a great airline, but it doesn’t go to enough places yet for me being based out of Chicago. I’d like to try it sometime because I’ve heard it’s a completely different experience, but I haven’t had a chance yet.
  • On April 8, 2013
    Shebnem Ince answered the question: Shebnem Ince

    What does Shebnem Ince always travel with?

    I always travel with a pair of good boots that are waterproof, but are somewhat attractive. It’s important to have boots when you’re in the country, especially in vineyards. I usually travel in the spring or the early winter, and there can be a lot of rain.
  • On April 8, 2013
    Shebnem Ince answered the question: Shebnem Ince

    What kind of shops does Shebnem Ince visit when she travels?

    I always look for chocolate shops. I love looking at housewares and kitchen shops wherever I am to see if I can get something that is hard to find in the United States, whether it’s a kitchen tool of the region or whatever. The last time I was in Sancerre, I got a little crock that they keep Crottin de Chavignol cheese in, and I use it for salt. It’s just really pretty.
  • On April 8, 2013
    Shebnem Ince answered the question: Shebnem Ince

    What does Shebnem Ince always bring home from her travels?

    I bring home chocolate. A lot of food is illegal — they’ll take your sausages and cheese. So I bring chocolate. Then I always buy a nice scarf in every city that I’m in and I’ll bring it home. I don’t like to pack a lot of stuff, so I don’t ever bring anything big home. Sometimes I don’t even check luggage.
  • On April 8, 2013
    Shebnem Ince answered the question: Shebnem Ince

    What's the best trip Shebnem Ince has ever taken?

    In 2004, I took my eight-year-old to Burgundy and Paris. We had an amazing time. That’s probably my favorite trip. It was really interesting having a child’s perspective on a wine trip. It actually made me do less wine stuff and see the things that I normally kind of ignore a little bit because I’m so wine-focused. Every place that we went, we had to find all the merry-go-rounds, so that was kind of a fun little diversion.
  • On April 8, 2013
    Shebnem Ince answered the question: Shebnem Ince

    What are Shebnem Ince's favorite cities?

    I always tend to prefer the small provinces — the small cities that surround vineyards. I’m kind of a very specific traveler; I don’t travel to places that don’t have vines. So I love Alba, and that’s in Piedmont, Italy; Cortona, this is in Tuscany; and Vienne, Bonne and St.-Rémy-de-Provence in France.
  • On April 8, 2013
    Shebnem Ince answered the question: Shebnem Ince

    What does Shebnem Ince look for in a wine?

    This is kind of cliché, but a sense of transparency. We look for things that don’t involve a lot of commercial production; we’re not looking for things that have 10,000 acres and 12 different production facilities. It’s really important to me that there’s a relationship between the winemaker and the land, and that there’s not a lot of additives in between the first pruning of the vines and the finished product — like a minimum of involvement or intervention. So I always look for that.

    And I want the wine to be reminiscent of where it’s from and taste like its place. I guess that old sense of terroir. People use that term a lot; it’s a very vague concept, but we do look for that when we’re choosing wine.