Like most big cities, Chicago has more than its share of great restaurants and interesting bars and clubs. For wine lovers, there is no shortage of outstanding places to share a bottle or try a flight of wine with friends. New wine discoveries are just around the corner when you explore some of these Chicago hotspots.
339 North Dearborn Street, Chicago, IL 60654
While Bin 36 bills itself as a restaurant (and they do serve great food), the real reason to visit is the wide selection of wine and the outstanding staff here, who are well-versed in the outstanding wine selection on offer. There’s also the draw of the wine shop with modern wine accessories (perfect for holiday gift giving).
Whether you tuck into a cozy booth or belly up to the back bar (where all the singles tend to congregate), there are plenty of wines to sample, from dry Chilean reds to sweet Sauternes. Don’t know where to begin? Flights are available, of course, and for those who want a better education, join Bin 36’s Wine School. Bin 36 also holds special events like Bubble Bath, where wine lovers can sample champagnes and sparkling wines pre-holiday season, with accompanying discounts on cases. Close to the House of Blues, Bin 36 makes a perfect stop after a concert.
Pops for Champagne
601 North State Street (at Ohio), Chicago, IL 60610
This intimate setting is the perfect place to enjoy a sampling of the bubbly any time of year. With live cool jazz on the weekends and a piano bar atmosphere during the week (with no cover charge), it’s a great place to enjoy with friends or special date. For more than 25 years, Chicagoans have flocked to this intimate setting to enjoy some of the more than 100 champagnes and sparkling wines on tap. There’s even a “bub club” with discounts and private tastings for the regulars.
There’s a full menu at Pops, with great desserts, and a complete bar offering for those non-wine drinking friends. The food is nearly as good as the wine, with a raw bar and small tapas-sized plates of cheeses and caviar available to accompany some of that great champagne
The Tasting Room
1415 W Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60607
For those who love the idea of sampling wines to discover a new favorite, this is the place to go. Conveniently located in the West Loop on a street lined with great restaurants (you’ll likely find you need some food after all that sampling), The Tasting Room is a cozy, brick-lined spot to gather with friends and see who can name the next great wine favorite.
True to their name, The Tasting Room focuses on just that, allowing its customers to sample wines in flights, usually grouped by type of wine. From those who are afraid to venture beyond the traditional Chardonnay or Merlot, this is a great way to expand the horizons without being stuck with an overpriced glass of wine you don’t like.
Head for the cozy couches upstairs for stunning views of the Chicago skyline. For those who love being barflies and interacting with the staff, downstairs may be a better option. This place is cozy not massive, so get an early start if you want to land choice seating. As the night progresses, it gets busier. Stop next door at Randolph Wine Cellars to pick up a bottle after you leave.
No matter which wine bar you choose in Chicago, there’s a good chance you will discover a new favorite to try at home. Each of the three Chicago wine bars listed here ranks high in great service and outstanding selection. Best of all, each provides a welcoming environment that will have you returning again.