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.
Tighthead Brewing Company owner and brewmaster Bruce Dir?a tighthead prop back in his rugby days?taps nearly two decades of personal and professional brewing experience and transforms it into beer. His brewery regularly churns out several types of beer seen in local bars and restaurants, including Comfortably Blonde ale, Scarlet-Fire and Irie IPA named for its viability as a session beer.
Attached to the brewery is a tap room, where guests can enjoy pints while watching games or catching up with friends. The watering hole also dispenses take-home growlers of any of the beers on tap, which include several experimental and theoretically impossible beers only available at the brewery. Though not a restaurant, the tap room keeps a stack of menus from local restaurants on hand, and orders delivery from them when asked.
Behind a red-brick storefront and striped awning, Viva Le Vine's vintners curate a collection of vintages both affordable and high end, pairing them with cheeses and other finger foods. Wooden racks hoist obsidian bottles of reds and whites, and the wine bar dispenses pours and sampling flights alongside microbrews, seasonal cocktails, and martinis. Cushy, black leather furniture and high-top tables dot the brightly lit interior and an upright piano stands against the wall for impromptu instrumental renditions of Gangsta's Paradise. A painting of colorful donkeys stares down enviously from rich burgundy walls at rich plates of succulent chocolates and naan covered in hearty toppings. The shop hosts live entertainment, numerous tastings, and trivia events throughout the year.
Vast rows of bottles stretch throughout the confines of S & S Wine and Spirit Warehouse, where an international spread of wines, a full roster of spirits, and both domestic and imported beers create happy indecision making among visitors. In addition to what the shop calls day-to-day wines, which often sell for $9.99 or less, special-occasion and collector’s vintages from as far back as 1982 also line the shelves. At the store’s wine station, up to eight wines are available to taste prior to purchase and are also sold by the glass. Lounging guests are encouraged to bring their own lunches to accompany their sips, which can be enjoyed in the seating area. Elsewhere, amid burgundy walls, a long, gleaming table seats more than a dozen people in the handsomely furnished tasting room, where wine gurus lead in-depth classes and free tastings on Fridays and Saturdays that feature a different vineyard each weekend.
When Chicagoans think of the Glunz name, they think of a good drink. It's hard not to when the family has been active in the wine business in the Chicago-area since 1888. In 1992, the family formed Glunz Family Winery & Cellars, a winery based in their hometown of Grayslake.
In the 20 years since that decision, they have created a roster of elegant table wine, fortified wine, specialty seasonal wine, and reserve wine, which includes chardonnay, pinot noir, and a zinfandel blend. They age their tawny port in specialty barrels for 10 years and isolate the sweetness of more than two pounds of raspberries to create every bottle of their dessert wine. Like a puppy dressed in an ugly christmas sweater, their traditional glogg?a blend of port, dry red wine, spices, and an orange peel?adds cheer to the dreary winter months.
Their true speciality, however, is their first family wine. Every spring, the family calls upon a 19th-century recipe to make their May wine, which is imbued with the fresh spring flavors of crisp green apples and cinnamon. At the winery's tasting room, guests can try samples of this wine and the others.
Rudolph Valentino DiTommaso has approximately 4,000 growing vines to look after at his 20-acre estate vineyard of ripening grapes in Long Grove. Rudolph and his team harvest their fruits and age their elixirs in barrels made of French and American oak to yield more than 20 types of wines, all of which are produced completely on-site. And they take just as much delight in showing off their libations as they do in making them. The vineyard regularly hosts seminars and tastings, which guests can pair with tours of the vineyard.