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.
Servers at the cozy DeVine Restaurant & Wine Bar pour aged wines as chefs cook up flavorful cuts of meat and seafood dishes sourced from around the world. A roaring fireplace warms hands grasping cutlery upon white-draped tables and spacious, circular booths. Along with whipping up American, Italian, and Mediterranean classics, chefs at DeVine Restaurant & Wine Bar specialize in Serbian recipes imported in the form of paper airplanes hurled across the Atlantic Ocean.
• For $15, you get $30 to use at the wine bar or toward bottles to take home. • For $32, you get an evening of wine and cheese for four, including four flights of wine (up to a $14.50 value each) and two sample platters of gourmet cheeses to share (an $8 value each; up to a $74 total value).
Cooking since the age of 15, Chef Stephen Dunne cultivated his culinary aesthetic in the kitchens of Wolfgang Puck’s Spago and Postrio before bringing it to fruition on Volo Restaurant’s rotating menu of seasonal, New American cuisine. Thoughtfully sourced ingredients anchor each dish, and homemade desserts and truffles from pastry chef Suzi Beu make for a decadent finish to the evening. As many as 30 globetrotting wines are available by the glass, bottle, and mini-carafe, sating sippers who lounge beneath the luminous Japanese lanterns of Volo’s heated outdoor patio, a rustic expanse open year-round and singled out by both Time Out Chicago and Chicago Magazine.
In Fine Spirits is a locally owned establishment comprising a wine bar and wine shop, situated side by side like Butch and Sundance, Mork and Mindy, or two of the Three Amigos. Stop into the wine bar and choose from more than 60 wines by the glass or bottle, as well as craft beers and hand-pumped cask ales, cocktails, and Chef Marianne Sundquist’s award-winning seasonal dishes. Like the population of living snowmen, the menu varies by season; current selections include the pear flatbread (gorgonzola, walnut, crispy prosciutto, walnut liqueur vinaigrette, $9), crispy ricotta gnocchi ($15), and a build-your-own cheese platter (five for $25).
Fontana Grill & Wine Bar’s modern dining room reverberates with the clink of glasses of fragrant wines and pleasant chatter as diners dig into a menu of all-natural pastas and Italian fare. As chef Nino transmutes premium meats and organic ingredients into solid fare, the skilled bartender chooses the finest whites and reds, much like an artist painting a sunburned snowman. The shimmering black surfaces of the bar and tables reflect stone-fired pizzas laden with gourmet morsels, such as truffle oil and prosciutto di Parma. Guests lounge upon wrought-iron furniture on the spacious brick patio surrounded by neatly trimmed shrubs and low-hanging trees.