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sample wine in chicago

Chicago’s Best Spots for Tasting Wine

By / December 13, 2018

Chicago boasts a vibrant beer and spirits scene, but its wine game is just as robust — and engaging. Experience it at some of the city’s best wine bars and shops, where teams are as eager to pour their bottles as they are to share their knowledge, as evidenced by an array of on-site classes, dinners, and tastings. From a Spanish-centric tasting room to a globally-inspired steakhouse, here are five of the best spots to sample wine in Chicago.



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Prime & Provisions

The wine list is as impressive as the space at this 12,000-square-foot restaurant, where beverage director Adam Sweders oversees a collection of more than 300 bottles hailing from all regions of the world (with a special nod to California, France, and Italy). Check out their Eventbrite posts for their monthly wine dinners, a five-course meal from chef Joseph Rizza that pairs each plate with selections from a special winery (including favorites like Turley, JUSTIN, and Inglenook). If you can’t make the event, head to the bar for a tasting of their well-rounded list, and be sure to try some dishes while you’re at it — namely the fried chicken for the table (with a chili bourbon maple drizzle) or the opulent shellfish tower.


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Spanish Square

The best-kept secret of this Southport Corridor restaurant is its bodega in the back, where the team stocks and sells more than 100 types of Spanish wines — making it one of the city’s most diverse and exclusive selections from the region. It’s here that the crew hosts Bodega Night, a chance for the community to gather and taste through some popular sips every Thursday from 6:30pm to 8:30pm. Once you work up an appetite, stick around — their dining room menu is full of Spanish specialties, from hand-carved jamon Iberico to chicken and chorizo paella.


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Perman Wine Selections

More than 250 kinds of wines line the shelves at this Near North shop, which specializes in offerings from around the world, with a special focus on grower Champagne houses, the wines of Piedmont, Italy, and the wines of Portugal. The shop’s event space hosts a variety of happenings, from evenings dedicated to a varietal (Champagne Night, Nebbiolo Night) to plenty of special tastings (e.g., Distilled with Love, a night focusing on grape- and fruit-based spirits, like eau de vie, Calvados, and cognac). Join their monthly wine club to try six staff picks featuring the best everyday wines for $30 or less.


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J9 Wine Bar

Education is an emphasis at this Lincoln Park wine bar, where classes, tastings, and special events are scheduled throughout the month to provide patrons with as many chances as possible to expand their knowledge. Visit on Saturdays for classes or Thursdays for producer tastings, or come any day of the week for a fast-moving world tour at the bar, where the menu highlights more than 40 rotating wines by the glass that span the globe. Pair them with any of the kitchen’s best bites, including an array of carefully sourced cheeses and charcuterie.


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Wine Goddess

Before opening up this Evanston wine shop, owner Diana Hamann helmed the programs at some of the city’s best restaurants (including Japonais and Le Colonial), opened wine programs for local retailers, and taught wine courses at the University of Chicago and The Chopping Block. Needless to say, the woman knows her wine — and her shop reflects that prowess along with her passion to educate. That passion is evident in the handful of frequently scheduled events and classes hitting upon topics like Wine Tasting 101; The Oregon Wine Trail; and sparkling wines and their best cheese pairings. Check out their Eventbrite calendar for live music, too — local musicians show up on the regular.

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Nicole Schnitzler is a freelance writer who covers​ ​food, drink, ​travel, entertainment, and ​lifestyle. When she is not planning her next adventure​​, she can be found​ ​commuting between bakeries, yoga classes,​ live music shows, and libraries ​in her hometown of ​​Chicago. She is most comfortable with a pen in one hand and a fork in the other. Nicole is also the founder of Doors Open Dishes, an initiative committed to keeping the doors open to the group homes and workshops of individuals with special needs by partnering with chefs and restaurants across the city. Follow her on Twitter (@Write_To_Eat) or on Instagram (@WriteToEat).

More articles by Nicole Schnitzler



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