What does a wine lover do during a weekend away in Chicago? Start by drinking some craft beer of course! Chi-town is ripe with microbreweries and tap houses, featuring a fantastic selection born and brewed in Illinois. Casual beer drinkers and “MBA”’s (Master Beer Appreciators) alike must make a stop at Goose Island for a bite to eat and a sampling of unique and flavorful beers. http://www.gooseisland.com/index.html
The wine scene in Chicago is underdeveloped, yet boasts some serious potential. Most of the cities italian eateries and famous pizzerias offer a few wine options but lack a robust selection. There are however, a few gems worthy of a wine aficionado’s attention.
After an entirely underwhelming and poor customer service experience at Eataly’s wine shop, we were off in search of wine in the windy city.
City Winery was next up, and it did not disappoint. Located just west of The Loop, City Winery is a fully functioning winery (producing 100 tons of grapes per year), a restaurant, and music venue- all residing within the walls of 1200 West Randolph Street. Grapes are sourced from vineyards all over the world including Hyland Vineyards from the Willamette Valley in Oregon and Catena Vineyards in Agrelo, Mendoza Argentina. We sat at the bar and spent the better part of an evening sipping and discussing wine under the service of City Winery’s extremely helpful and knowledgeable staff member Aaron Mace. City Winery is a pioneer in developing an urban wine country. They aim to give fans of wine, food, and culture the chance to touch and feel all the aspects of the winemaking process—the crush, the fermenting, the blend and they even offer the opportunity to create your own private barrel. City Winery has a winery in New York, and additional locations in Napa and Nashville. Plan to check out their calendar and spend an evening enjoy wine and entertainment. http://www.citywinery.com/chicago/
Our quest concluded at boutique wine bar Rootstalk, a small establishment nestled near Humboldt Park. Rootsalk offers an extensive and worldly wine list with mouth-watering descriptions and a complementary smattering of food options. The burger with bacon aioli could easily be considered the best burger in the city, and the warm beet salad with toasted hazelnuts is something I will attempt to replicate at home. I don’t think you can go wrong ordering anything on the menu, but I was extremely pleased to be drinking a glass of “the sexiest red you’ll sip all year” in a 2010 Domaine Mercouri Refosco/Mavrodaphne Vin des Letinon from Greece’s Peloponnesus region. Sour-cherry, black raspberry and tobacco, violet and rosemary were at home under burnt cinnamon and cedar tannins. Stop by for an authentic experience and opportunity to try some unique wines of the world. http://rootstockbar.com
If you’re headed to Chicago or not, we hope you have the chance to try some of our #SipSavorServe recommendations below!
– Sip – City Winery 2012 Taylor Street Tuscan (40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Franc) – Sip while catching up with family or friends before your next dinner together
– Savor – 2012 Hermanos de Domingo Molina Malbec/Tannat from Argentina (Thanks to the Salta’s high elevation and terrific sun exposure the grapes boast some serious depth and character. Silky on the palate with flavors of raspberry, dark chocolate, black pepper, anise, and plum) – Savor while relaxing in your favorite getaway at home or on vacation
–Serve – City Winery 2013 Pinot Noir (Sourced from Hyland Vineyard in the Willamette Valley of Oregon and unmistakably pinot, each sip offers a balanced complexity.) – Serve with bruschetta or a roasted veggie rigatoni
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