Naturally, the chefs at Cooper’s Hawk have a sharp eye when it comes to wine pairings. Each of the restaurant’s contemporary dishes is crafted with a particular wine in mind, which makes plenty of sense given the fact that there’s a winery located just next door. Surrounded by oaken barrels and racks lined with glistening bottles, diners may be forgiven for thinking that they made a wrong turn and ended up in the winery itself. After your meal, see the real thing in the Napa–style tasting room, where you can sample up to eight different wines. The selection includes something for everyone, including graceful blush wines and cabernets whose flavors unfold like a novel scribbled on the wings of an origami crane.
Flatlander's pampers malt-pining palates by balancing a seasonal lineup of more than seven house-made brews with a diverse menu ranging from classic pub fare to gourmet entrees. Beer flights guide diners through five distillations and the on-site brewmaster ensures appetizers highlight each brews best qualities, matching seared asian ahi to the crispness of the Jackson Wit and spicy jumbo wings to the Flatlander IPA's training as a firefighter. Thick cuts of homestyle meatloaf and crispy morsels of fish and chips embody the roles of classic pub fare, subtly supported by gourmet-inspired castmates such as linguine pomodoro and USDA-prime center-cut filet mignon. An arsenal of 13 hearty burgers accessorized with toppings such as pulled pork, guacamole, or fried onions gratify any diet while bookended around a choice of USDA-prime chuck, ground turkey, veggie, or peppermint patties.
Village Vintner Winery & Brewery poses a gastronomic triple threat, operating as not just a restaurant and winery, but also a fully functioning brewery. A battalion of stainless-steel machinery ferments the hand-selected wheat and barley that make up the vanilla-cream ale, the German-style hefeweizen, and the Vintner Hop Rocket, an 8.2% ABV varietal culminating from six types of hops and mad, mad science. At the tasting bar, guests can sample these brewery end products, along with Village Vintner’s expansive selection of homemade red, white, and fruit wines. The main restaurant area houses a wood-fired pizza oven, which bakes the pesto pizzas and smoldering baby back ribs that complement potables.
A spirit of good-natured fun permeates the copper-hued premises, as evidenced by a free monthly wine and mug club. Live music is a common occurrence on Friday nights, and Wednesdays star Chef Rob’s pork special.
Local artwork garnishes the walls inside Park Avenue Wine Bar & Merchant as tastefully as the international vintages decorating the wine list. Under the guidance of three resident sommeliers, the staff carefully curates a collection of more than 70 wines by the bottle and glass, sourced from locales such as New Zealand, Argentina, France, and California. They summon their vast viticultural knowledge and ability to speak with grapes to help patrons complement the flavors of executive chef Ted Stay's elegant cuisine. Blending traditional European cooking techniques with contemporary methods, Ted whips up small plates, flatbreads, steaks, and seafood with a locally sourced arsenal of seasonal, sustainable ingredients.
Towering wine racks flank a curved bar, and glowing swaths of blue and purple light line exposed-brick walls inside the renovated historic building. The lights also illuminate the immense stash of wine bottles, craft beers, and top-notch liquors—all available for take-home purposes as well as sipping onsite. Park Avenue Wine Bar & Merchant also frequently hosts events, including live music and tastings.
The experts at Wine Discount Center taste wine like it’s their job—because it is, actually. Every month, they taste hundreds of wines, assessing each one’s color, aroma, flavor, body, knowledge of American history, and finish in the same manner that the critics of Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate use to grade wines on their 100-point scales. This never-ending sampling and scoring lets Wine Discount Center’s team continually update and hone the selection at each location, regularly announcing new finds on the company's website and ensuring each bottle it stocks is worthy of 85 points or more. The oenophiles further enhance guests’ enjoyment of their wines by leading in-store tastings every Saturday at noon.
When Bud Schwarzbach took a job managing his father's store in 1958, it was supposed to be a temporary position. More than 50 years on, he's still at it at Vin Chicago. The reason the business has endured so long may be that the Schwarzbachs and their colleagues don't just taste wine, but live it, tasting hundreds of wines each month, and assessing each one?s color, aroma, flavor, body, and finish. The result is a family business big enough to buy in volume, but small and passionate enough to carefully select every single wine that comes in. To back up their recommendations and prove they can count past the single digits, the team can tell customers each bottle's score on 100-point scales from Wine Spectator, Wine Advocate, or Vin Chicago's own in-house rating system.
Quality may be the most important factor the staff considers when they update their selection at stores in Chicago, Highland Park, Barrington, and Naperville. But that's not to say they ignore affordability. Case in point: each store stocks a selection of sub-$10 wines that have all earned scores above 90.