Avanti Winery handcrafts its own signature wine blends alongside more than 25 local Colorado wines, furnishing oenophiles with myriad grownup grape-juice choices. A bottle of chardonnay ($16.95) transports hints of vanilla, lemon, almonds, and hazelnuts to taste buds, and the popular white table wine ($16.95) melds five varietals potent enough to charm palates and steal guests’ girlfriends at dinner parties. Swill sips of Avanti's table red wine ($17.95) or uncork the signature cabernet sauvignon ($22.95), bursting with maroon-tinged fruits. The merlot ($22.95) introduces cherries and a dry finish to palates, and the port III’s dashes of caramel, cherry, and chocolate ($24.95) form a trio of dessert flavors in tipsifying liquid form. Avanti Winery also offers free wine tastings Thursday–Sunday from a different Colorado winery each month.
Thanks to its impressive selection of varietals from more than 95 local wineries, The Wines of Colorado has been lauded as "one of the most unique wine shops in the country" by Wine Trail Traveler and featured in the Wall Street Journal. Inside, a mural of larger-than-life bottles lines one wall, and an adjacent room houses an expansive tasting counter that stocks a lineup of bottles filled with Colorado reds and whites, which are often compared to Californian vinos. Their food has received it?s fair share of recognition as well, earning numerous awards, including Best Creekside Dining from the Gazette in 2010 and 2011. The chefs sizzle up signature buffalo wine burgers and creamy dill mahi-mahi, which guests can enjoy on the pine-tree-lined outdoor patio as they sip wine mere steps away from the burbling Fountain Creek.
Owner and senior wine instructor Dani Cross created VinBoutique with a mission to introduce palates to the best French wines. A certified level-III sommelier, Cross personally travels to France to hand-pick vintages from small production companies and develop relationships with local vintners, ensuring her customers enjoy a collection of reds, whites, and bubbly that is exceptional not just in craftsmanship and taste, but also in value. "By tasting my wines, you can actually hone your palate way quicker because [the wines are] technically correct" in the way they are selected, shipped, and stored, she says. "If you're not tasting something that's proper, you won't know what chardonnay is supposed to taste like."
A strong belief that wine should be enjoyed and shared with others inspires VinBoutique's tasting classes, where Cross and other wine experts share insights into different varietals, food pairings, and wine-making techniques. Using an approach designed to be both fun and unintimidating, Cross also includes a question-and-answer section, as well as easy-to-follow tasting notes, making her classes accessible to everyone from the casual wine fan to the connoisseur who can uncork a bottle using only their mind. As Dani continued to try new wines and savor her favorite French vintages, she became dismayed. Often, the wines she bought had been stored improperly or for too long, destroying the bouquets and noses that she loved. "Born of frustration, I decided to start my own [wine boutique]." And thus she curated a selection of French wines for VinBoutique. "By tasting my wines, you can actually hone your palate way quicker because [the wines are] technically correct" in the way they are selected, shipped, and stored, she says. "If you're not tasting something that's proper, you won't know what chardonnay is supposed to taste like."
In addition to bottles of red, white, and bubbly, Dani and a team of instructors offer wine classes suitable for everyone from the casual wine fan to the connoisseur who can uncork a bottle using only their mind. Each class comes with notes and take-home materials, and is taught by a teacher who can both go into great technical detail or give thorough overviews so that student's don?t "get cross-eyed."
The vintners at Wild Women Wine make it their mission to throw back the curtain on the mysteries of the winemaking process. The team invites visitors to concoct a personal wine batch of their own, modifying favorite house varietals with touches of oak, tannin, spice and other flavors. Each custom wine culminates in a bottling party, where the wine auteur, along with family and friends, can bottle, cork and label their bottles instead of just drinking it out of a communal bucket like usual.
For less hands-on pours, the boutique winery's wine list hosts a vast array of already-bottled varietals. Wines range from dry reds and whites, sweet wines, and a fortified dessert port.
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Nonna's Chicago Bistro, named Best Italian in 2011 on Denver's 7 A-List, lures hungry passersby with a menu of Windy City–style Italian fare, more than 20 wines by the glass, and complimentary ciabatta bread with saucy marinara. The owners, a family of Chicago natives, dedicated Nonna's to their grandmother, whose passion for hearty, homestyle fare inspired their chefs to perfect such classics as chicken parmigiana, lasagna, and slow-cooked, Chicago-style ribs. Dinners pair with a glass of Italian Da Vinci chianti or a Californian 181 merlot, or assorted well drinks and domestic brews from the exposed-brick bar.
Nonna's Chicago Bistro's dining room provides guests with an elegant eating coliseum, boasting walls painted with grapevine designs and windows that welcome a breathtaking view of the Leaning Tower of Willis. The quaint eatery also fills ear canals with live music performed by jazz trios, classical guitarists, and country crooners on weekend evenings.