So Chicago, you’ve thawed out and are looking to catch up on all the human interaction you missed while holed up in your apartment under seven layers of fleece and wool? To help you emerge from your cocoon, we present some of the best wine bars in your city. Go forth and sip!
Best Wine Bar for Novices: City Winery: If you’re just getting into wine and are hesitant about spending an entire evening somewhere dedicated solely to the stuff, City Winery is for you. A mix of a wine bar, winery, culinary institute, concert hall and art gallery, there is something here for everyone. Tour the winery and learn how wine is made, take a food and wine pairing class, or attend a concert and sip wine that was made next door.
Most Romantic: RM Champagne Salon: A hidden patio softly lit by white lights and oodles of Champagne...need we say more? Dedicated to grower Champagne (meaning the grape grower also made the wine, denominated by the initials RM), this wine bar is all about the bubbly and the elegant lifestyle that comes with it. Inexpensive it is not (true Champagne never is), but for a special date or celebration, it’s a great choice.
Best Bang for your Buck: Vera: You might be able to find a cheaper glass of wine somewhere, but you won’t find better quality for the price. Vera’s wines are carefully selected to reflect Spain’s best and to pair with the incredible (and inexpensive--almost every plate is under $12) Spanish tapas and hams on the menu. Their Sherry menu alone could occupy you all night.
Most Eclectic Selection: Avec: Opened by a crackerjack team of chefs and sommeliers in 2003, Avec focuses its enticing food and wine menus on southwestern Europe. Southern France, Portugal, Spain and Italy provide a fascinating playground for wine selection, and Avec takes full advantage; you’ll see stuff here that you never thought you’d see outside of that little cafe in Lisbon.
Best Neighborhood Wine Bar: Webster’s Wine Bar: It may not have the fanciest website or sleekest bar, but Webster’s is where you want to be at the end of a long day. A welcoming atmosphere, comfortable seating, and passionate owners and staff, not to mention the varied wine list that includes helpful background info listed under each wine--you’ll find yourself coming back again and again, as locals have for 15 years.