Best wine bars in Chicago

Sip, swirl and learn a thing or two about wine at Chicago's best wine bars

Photograph: Martha Williams
Tieguanyin Medium Roast Oolong tea paired with Toro Albala Oloroso at Vera wine bar.

Handcrafted cocktails and local brews are big in Chicago bars, but wine is still as popular as ever. That might have something to do with the fact that these days, sommeliers aren't afraid to think outside the box, from wine cocktails to wine on tap. Even the food goes beyond the typical cheese plates. Get ready to sip and swirl at some of the best wine bars in town.

RECOMMENDED: Best bars in Chicago

Best wine bars in Chicago

Bar Pastoral

The restaurant attached to Lakeview's Pastoral is a dim, cozy spot for drinking an interesting selection of wines by the glass, along with the food you want while sipping wines—cheese plates, charcuterie and pate. Half glasses of wine are just $5, so you can sample a variety, and if you like what you taste, well, Pastoral's shop is just next door.

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Lakeview

DiSotto Enoteca

Old World wine list and Mediterranean small plates: Scott Harris has nailed the formula at Purple Pig and Davanti Enoteca, so why mess with a good thing? Admittedly, the scales at DiSotto (in the cellar-like basement of Francesca’s on Chestnut) tip toward drinking—the food is limited to antipasti, bruschette, cheeses and salumi. But when you’re spreading thick ricotta and fragments of honeycomb on toasted bread or sampling warm, marinated olives or indulging in the toast with a truffled egg yolk at its center, the appeal of this wine bar can’t help but feel unending.

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Streeterville

Pops for Champagne

This sleek, shiny bar in Tree Studios boasts—as the name suggests—the city’s best selection of bubbles. Most of it doesn’t come cheap (it never does, honey), but you’re not just paying for the booze—you’re paying for some of the most educated bartenders in town. Take advantage of their knowledge and ask lots of questions. And when you’ve had enough education (and wine), head downstairs to Pops’ cocktail bar, WaterShed.

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Chicago

RM Champagne Salon

You enter through an unmarked alleyway, glowing strings of lights leading you to a cobblestone courtyard and ornate parlor that resemble a Parisian hideaway. You forget where you are. You order glasses of Champagne you’ve never heard of, you gently unhinge oysters from their shells, and when dessert comes, your selection is plucked from a fanciful cart, replete with bite-size macaroons and caramels and marshmallows. Heaven? Who needs it when there’s RM?

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West Loop

Rootstock Wine & Beer Bar

The novella-length menu at this low-key alcove contains loving and helpful descriptions of an impressive selection of wines and beers. And thanks to the array of small plates served until 1am, this is the kind of warm, simple neighborhood place you’ll never want—or need—to leave.

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Humboldt Park

Webster’s Wine Bar

Webster’s Wine Bar relocated from Lincoln Park to Logan Square (where it took over sister spot the Telegraph), but little has changed. It's still a solid place to sample an array of wines, since tasting pours are about $3-$6, and the knowledgable staff and engaging menu descriptions will direct you to the right wine. The cheeses and charcuterie plates are just what you need to soak it all up.

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Logan Square

Vera

Mark and Liz Mendez, both formerly of Carnivale, escape the trappings of their former employer with this quiet spot. It's a wine bar, so drink up—Liz has assembled an excellent sherry program, and all the servers can direct you toward a glass. Mark handles food, and we're fans of the hearty paella, perfectly seasoned meatballs and the generous cheese and charcuterie plate. A new daytime menu features coffee and tea paired with sherry, plus snacks like doughnuts, English muffins and a tortilla espanola.

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West Loop

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