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. Hosted at local restaurants––including Crave Dessert Bar and Randolph's at the Warwick Hotel––each class includes a light food pairing designed specifically for the tasting, where chefs join in to offer their own unique insights into the relationship between vino and victual. 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."
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.
To say The Cork House Broker Restaurant is a wine restaurant that just happens to serve food wouldn't be totally inaccurate. The extensive wine list encompasses a wide range, welcoming bottles of sparkling and still, red and white, inexpensive and indulgent. Those who join the restaurant's wine club receive exclusive invitations to events such as wine dinners, tastings, cooking classes, and meet-and-greets with winemakers.
With that said, the restaurant’s chefs certainly know their way around the kitchen. Guests can pair their wines with a flight of carefully curated cheeses, made from goat's and cow's milks, or consult a dinner menu filled with timeless entrees including steak diane, french onion soup, and fabulous mussels. Meals unfold in the restaurant’s intimate dining room or under the patio’s generously shady cover of trees.
A year after Scott Kerkmans created the role of Chief Beer Officer for the Four Points by Sheraton hotels, it began to get around that Denver was the "Napa Valley of Beer." As NPR later reports, the rumor is a culmination of a life spent steeped in beer culture. Before creating Colorado Beer Week and beating out more than 7,000 applicants for the title of CBO, Kerkmans was on the production side at Alaskan Brewing Company. He’s since authored articles for Draft Magazine, taught at Cook Street School of Fine Cooking, and judged burped renditions of the Pledge of Allegiance at the Great American Beer Festival. He shares his taste in microbrews with more than 140 hotels and restaurants worldwide through the Four Point's beer program, but keeps his feet planted firmly on his home turf during his nine-day spring festival, which highlights the finest pours from Colorado breweries including New Belgium, Oskar Blues, and Ska Brewing Company.
Exposed-brick walls, soft string lights, and eye-catching art serve as the backdrop for a relaxing night over carefully selected wines, small plates, and conversation at Sienna Wine Bar & Small Plates. Shareable dishes include Toblerone chocolate fondue, house salads, and gourmet pizzas to tantalize taste buds and fill diners' stomachs, complemented by sips of wine from the bar's large list of libations.
Surf 'n' turf at Opus doesn't mean steak and lobster. Instead, Chef Sean McGaughey pairs braised beef cheek with Atlantic monkfish, arraying them with glazed vegetables and bay-leaf butter in one of the restaurant's artful platings. It's one example of how McGaughey defies expectations at the combined restaurant and wine bar, where he merges French and Old World influences with contemporary American cuisine.
A salad might feature pink grapefruit flavored with black-pepper jam instead of lettuce. Hollandaise might be a foam instead of a sauce. And the burger you get from the menu isn't ground beef, but buffalo. For diners who love surprise so much they're engaged to a jack-in-the-box, the chef also prepares two separate tasting menus—one for omnivores and one for vegetarians. Each course has a suggested wine pairing, featuring sips from destinations such as Austria, France, and Chile. The Sunday brunch menu is likewise international, with soufflé pancakes and waffle BLTs embodying the eternal battle of sweet versus savory.