Over the last decade, Chicago has cemented itself as a destination for high-quality meals focused on locally sourced ingredients and innovative techniques. And that includes a stronger focus on wine.
Historically, exceptional sommeliers like Alpana Singh, Jill Zimorski, Arthur Hon, and Brian Duncan led the charge, helping shine a light on emerging regions or familiar grapes from less-known producers. These days a younger crop of somms, wine buyers, and general enthusiasts carry that torch while introducing Chicago diners to even more interesting wines, whether organically produced, gems from smaller producers tinkering with obscure grapes, or makers that push deeper into the uber-hip natural wine arena. You can find these types of wines in wine bars and retailers, of course: think classics like Rootstock, and newcomers All Together Now, Red & White, Diversey Wine, and Juice @ 1340 (formerly 1340 Beer Wine Spirits).
But restaurants too are offering similarly interesting bottles, with vibrant wine lists curated with meals in mind. From Spanish and Portuguese wines from of-the-moment producers meant to pair with tapas at Porto to buzzy by-the-glass picks at Outside Voices to sample alongside a chicken Parm sando, these spots can help introduce some really fun — and delicious — wine from around the world.
Ari Bendersky, a lifestyle journalist specializing in food, wine, spirits and travel, has written for New York Times, WSJ magazine, Eater, Men’s Journal, Wine Enthusiast, Departures, RollingStone.com and more. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter. Follow Resy, too.