Before the fermentation process was perfected, people were forced to store grapes in their cheeks for months in order to enjoy a single sip of wine. Celebrate advances in aging with today's Groupon: for $10, you get $20 worth of wine and small plates at Viva le Vine in Libertyville.
Viva le Vine stocks its shelves with a varied selection of wines, high-end spirits, and handcrafted beers that may be toted home or enjoyed at the purple-hued wine bar. Set down a foundation for the fermented fruits by supping on sumptuous small plates such as naan topped with pine nuts, prosciutto, mozzarella, and arugula, and drizzled with balsamic reduction ($9). Or, jump straight into the sauce by teaming complementary tannins in build-your-own wine flights ($7.50–$18 for 3 oz. or 6 oz. pours) or any number of house-infused flavored martinis ($9) that—like the Statue of Liberty's hats—rotate with the season. Cool down from the spice of a romesco forged from smoked paprika, toasted almonds, garlic, and roasted peppers ($9) by welcoming the chilly kiss of a cold microbrew beer ($2.50–$6) such as Summit Extra Pale Ale or Dragon's Milk Oat Aged Stout. Dessert wines make a superb stand-in for the sweet stuff with options including Dow's '03 Late Bottle Vintage Port from Portugal ($7), and Domiane Pinnacle '09 Apple Ice Wine from Canada, but classicists can cut their sweet tooth on slices of bittersweet chocolate silk pie ($6) that traveled briefly after college but now reside permanently in-house.
Viva le Vine
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.