Best wine bars in Chicago
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.
Generally speaking, income tax isn’t something we’re thrilled about. Income Tax, a wine bar in Edgewater, on the other hand, is a place you should get excited about. The neighborhood spot offers a knockout selection of inspired bites, but the big decisions are reserved for the exhaustive wine and spirits menu. If you're looking for wines by the glass, there's a concise list of options—from prosecco and rosé to cabernet Franc and syrah.
This subterranean wine bar is all but hidden on a quiet corner in the West Loop. But once you step inside, you'll get the sense that it's every nearby resident's favorite secret. Owned and operated by the folks behind upstairs bed-and-breakfast Publishing House, the Press Room offers a robust selection of special wines by the glass and bottle. Sip picks from Chile, Spain, Argentina, Israel, Washington and beyond. Pours are best paired with La Grande Board, an assortment of charcuterie and cheese, or the dreamy chocolate cremeux.
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 pâté. Half glasses of wine are just $5–$8, so you can sample a variety. If you like what you taste, well, Pastoral's shop is just next door.
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 $4.50–$7.50, and the knowledgeable 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.
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, bruschetta, cheeses, salumi and a small selection of pasta. 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.
You enter through an unmarked alleyway, glowing strings of lights leading you to a cobblestone courtyard and ornate parlor that resembles 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 marshmallows. Heaven? Who needs it when there’s RM?
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), 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.
The patient staff at this Lincoln Park wine bar doesn't take themselves too seriously, which makes the discovery process here fun and approachable. There are plenty of options by the glass, but deal seekers will want to venture in on Mondays, when bottles under $99 are 50 percent off.
An environmentally conscious wine shop, Red & White specializes in natural wines and hard-to-find and obscure booze in all forms. The storefront's new wine bar unsurprisingly pours from the same vein, though guests can expect to find different bottles than what's available up front. The beautiful, modern space also serves a variety of small nibbles including smoked trout with warm fingerling potato salad, anchovy toasts and an assortment of charcuterie and cheeses.
This combination wine store and bar has a few outposts, but we enjoy hanging out at the one in West Town. You'll find a sizable glass list and an abundance of snacks (we like the crispy chickpeas), and since you're there already, you should take a bottle of wine or beer home, too. For convenience.