Thursday from 6-10 PM, Hart Davis Hart Wine Company and Dom Perignon host Hope Dream Live 2008, a charity wine dinner and auction at Tru to benefit YMCA Camp Independence. A five-course dinner with wine pairings (including a 1990 Chateau Latour and 1986 Chateau d’Yquem) will be followed by an auction of ten lots of rare wines. $1,500.

If you wanted to go to WhiskyFest Chicago you needed to buy a ticket weeks ago, but Thursday of Whisky Week sees lots of free prefest tastings with whiskey makers in town for the event. A few highlights: Julian Van Winkle of Old Rip Van Winkle bourbons will speak and sign bottles at a tasting at Lush Wine and Spirits in Roscoe Village (5:30-8 PM). From 4 to 5 PM Tom Bulleit of Bulleit bourbon and Gregor Cattanach of Johnnie Walker will be at an event at Warehouse Liquors (4-7 PM); they’ll then move on to a tasting at the South Loop Sam’s Wines & Spirits (5-8 PM), where they’ll appear from 6:30 to 7:30 PM. And the West Town location of Twisted Spoke hosts its annual “barrel extravaganza,” a whiskey festival featuring the distillers for Death’s Door Spirits (offering tastes from its first barrel of aged whiskey), Old Rip Van Winkle, Heaven Hill, and Kentucky Bourbon, plus Greg Hall of Goose Island, who’ll have a barrel of Bourbon County Stout on hand (8 PM-2 AM). 

A series of cooking demonstrations with advice on wine pairing begins Saturday at 11 AM at La Madia with “Perfect Pizzas and Tuscan Red Wines,” by chefs Jonathan Fox and Gianni Zonca. $25.

Saturday from 10 AM to 4 PM at Kendall College (900 N. Branch), the Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance presents The Midwest: How Sweet It Is!, a program on regional dessert traditions. Among the topics: the role of the railroad and immigrants in introducing new recipes to the area and the local origins of candy and candy bars like Butterfinger, Baby Ruth, and the Heath Bar. Refreshments and lunch are included. $60 ($50 in advance).

Cooking Jewish With Judy, a Culinary Historians of Chicago lecture by author Judy Bart Kancigor, takes place at the Chicago History Museum on Saturday from 10 AM to noon. It’s based on her recently published book, Cooking Jewish: 532 Great Recipes From the Rabinowitz Family, and includes samples; $5. And at 6 PM, ChicaGourmets (PDF) hosts a book signing and wine dinner with Kancigor at Ina’s; $69.

“Rock star of the craft beer world” (and Dogfish Head Beer founder) Sam Calagione and master sommelier Marnie Old discuss their book, He Said Beer, She Said Wine, Tuesday at 7 PM at the Book Stall at Chestnut Court.