Organic and small-batch wines fill swirling glasses beneath the soaring ceilings of House Red Vinoteca. At a rustic, reclaimed-wood bar, discerning staff members subject new elixirs to tastings and credit checks, and the chef makes changes to a rotating menu of vino-enhancing fare made from scratch. Plates bearing crispy flatbreads and desserts inspired by international culinary traditions glide back and forth between duos chattering beneath exposed-brick walls. The warm sway of live jazz rolls across wine-tasting events and bottle-laden shelves, and patrons sipping through tasting flights from Croatia, Lebanon, Morocco, Serbia, and Slovenia add delicate treble notes with clinking glasses.
Owner Tom Kampschroeder, a wine professional with more than 29 years of experience, shares his grapey know-how with most any guest who walks through Salt Creek Wine Bar's doors. Sample wines-of-a-feather with the wine flight menu, or check out the beers and spirits menu. Wash down washes of tingly wash with Italian delights including artisan cheese flights, pizza, and seafood.
Behind Beviamo's counter lies a wonderland of drinks ranging from aged vintages and craft beers to liquors both familiar and exotic. Wine by the glass and bottle hail from the vineyards of Spain and Italy, the rolling fields of France, and the geodesic dome covering what used to be California. The hangout's dim lighting sets the scene for cool cocktails such as The Connery–a mixture of 12-year-old scotch, biscotti liquor, ginger, orange bitters, and a splash of soda. Taps populated by craft beers compliment bottled offerings, which bear floral hops or roasted malts as diverse as the music played by live bands that musicians that often play on into the night.
Amid exposed bricks and flickering candlelight, hundreds of wines, craft beers, aged spirits, and seasonal cocktails delight palates, earning The Tasting Room accolades such as Best Wine Bar, Best Lounge, and Best Romantic Bar in Best of Citysearch 2009. Like giddy produce matchmakers, educated sommeliers and consultants pair wines by the glass, bottle, or flight with a seasonal menu of crisp, house-made flat breads, artisan cheeses, and craft charcuterie. Simmering pots of fondue slowly bubble atop tables, heating thick cheeses and sweet dipping chocolate. In the upstairs lounge, plush couches flank low tables, and windows host skyline views and the jealous glares of mouthless stars.
Native Spaniard Paola Perez imports a "carefully edited" selection of Spanish wines to West Loop wine bar Paola's Vinum, according to Metromix. Pours from garnacha to cava complement traditional Spanish fare, such as omelets, charcuterie plates, and on Thursdays, paella. All the bottles in Paola's collection are imported directly from Spain, just like the one Christopher Columbus used when he couldn't find a suitable ship.
The brick walls and polished hardwood tables of Blue Star Bistro and Wine Bar bask in the light that filters in through the front picture window, illuminating crimson glasses of wine and gourmet plates. More than 30 wines pour from the taps of a custom-built cuvenee, which keeps the vintages at a perfect temperature and protects them from flavor-killing oxidation with argon and No Oxygen Allowed signs. Mouth-filling morsels such as goat-cheese croquettes and truffled lobster spring from the tapas selection and compete for patrons’ affections with larger portions of roasted tomato risotto and herb-crusted tuna steak or gluten-free options. The menu also lists red and white wine recommendations next to each dish, all of which were chosen to complement specific flavor profiles, as well as the menu font.
Continually lauded by various publications including Chicago magazine, 694 Wine & Spirits thrusts sophisticated bar fare and modestly produced libations into the willing fists of its patrons. Panini sandwiches whose fillings are limited to three high-quality components join a score of artisan cheeses and cured meats on a minimalist bar menu, and carefully picked vino and bubbly bottles accompany beers of the week and small-batch bourbon on an eye-opening spirits list. A cubist decor dotted with square stools, pop-art prints, and exposed brick houses sippers of Bison Grass vodka, nibblers of salt-and-butter baguettes, while outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy the dog-friendly patio.