Osteria via Stato is offering dinner “baskets” to pick up for Venetian Night this Saturday: marinated mozzarella and olives, focaccia, three-bean salad, almond macaroons, bottled water, and other Italian goodies to serve four will be packed into recycled wine boxes. They’re $60 each; add a bottle of wine for $15 or a kiddie meal (PB&J) for $5.95. Orders must be placed by noon on Saturday.

Also on Saturday the Culinary Historians of Chicago present the lecture “Predecessor to M.F.K. Fisher: Michigan’s Della Lutes,” a talk by Tribune food writer Robin Mather Jenkins. It runs from 10 AM to noon at the Robert Morris College Institute of Culinary Arts and costs $10 ($5for students and free for CHC members).

Grand Cru Wine Merchants in Arlington Heights host a free (free!) Syrah & Zinfandel BBQ on Saturday from 1 to 5 PM. In addition to the ten or so syrahs and zins for sampling, there will be smoked pork shoulder to pair with the beefy wines.

If you’re feeling a little more spendy, for $150 you can taste $1,600 worth of wines at Just Grapes Monday at How To Collect 102, led by master sommelier Joseph Spellman from 6 to 8:30 PM. If you’ve been wondering what a 2003 Chateau Margaux tastes like but can’t hack the $599 price tag for a bottle, it’s not a bad deal. 

Swirl‘s monthly wine tasting, Tuesday at 6:30 PM, features a dozen South American and Spanish whites, plus hors d’oeuvres and a performance by jazz vocalist Elaine Dame. It’s $25 in advance, $35 at the door.