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Some of Chicago’s best restaurants are letting you raid their wine cellars

Morgan Olsen
Written by
Morgan Olsen

As it turns out, there's never been a better time to become a wine connoisseur. Right now, you can flex your palate and show local love when you shop your favorite restaurant's wine cellar. For the first time ever, beloved upscale eateries like Income Tax, Entente and Alinea are offering some of their most prized bottles to go. And most are extending deep discounts to their customers, which means you can score incredible vino for a remarkable price.

Last month, after Chicago bars and restaurants were ordered to close to dine-in guests, the Illinois Liquor Control Commission encouraged licensed establishments to start selling unopened bottles and cans of alcohol for delivery and takeout. Bartenders assembled cocktail kits, breweries set up online shops and sommeliers started yanking bottles from their cellars.

At Income Tax, a wine-fueled restaurant in Edgewater, beverage director Collin Moody said his team reacted swiftly to the announcement, setting up a makeshift, social-distancing–friendly wine shop that guests who were picking up takeout could browse. Moody has also found success in using the restaurant's Instagram account to advertise discounted bottle bundles that are up for grabs. If you don't see anything you love or you're just starting to learn about wine, give Income Tax a ring and Moody will assemble a customized six- or 12-pack based on your likes and dislikes.

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Even though he's not able to engage in as much back-and-forth banter with guests, Moody says the stay-at-home order has allowed him to interact with and uplift Chicago wine lovers in a unique way.

"It's been kind of fun to be like, 'Yeah, this is the wine you want for a couch-and-Netflix hang, and this is the one you need for takeout pizza, and this is the one for your wife's chicken piccata," Moody says. "Frankly, right now, it's ultimately cash flow. It's something that we can continue to sell. Fortunately, there will always be lots of great wine in the world."

Take a look at some other Chicago restaurants and bars that are opening their cellars to consumers, and consider supporting these local establishments next time your wine supply is running low.

Alinea: Yes, that Alinea. When you order takeout from the fine-dining powerhouse, you can toss in a bottle of wine—because why the heck not. Select from Ultra ($65), Reserve ($45) or Standard ($25) and allow the beverage team to pull something special to pair with your to-go order.

All Together Now: This sweet bottle shop keeps the wine flowing with pickup and delivery service that showcases a variety of pet-nat pours and funky finds, priced between $21 and $36. You can also call the Wine & Cheese Hotline at 773-661-1599 to get expert recommendations over the phone.

Bar Ramone: The sommeliers at this River North restaurant curated six-packs that highlight Spanish wines ($120), light whites ($120) and savory reds ($150). Or shop by the bottle, with bottles of pinot, albarino and chenin blanc available for $20–$50.

Entente: If you've ever dined at chef Brian Fisher's River North restaurant, you know that the wine list is outstanding. You'll get the same treatment when you order takeout or delivery, with reasonably priced bottle add-ons that range from champagne to brunello ($30–$175).

Kumiko: You can shop a tight but well-curated selection of vinos from Julia Momose's upscale West Loop bar online for pickup. We've got our eyes on a beautiful 2014 chardonnay from Burgundy that's going for $55.

The Purple Pig: When you order a Greek feast from this iconic Mag Mile restaurant, you have the option to toss in a chef-selected bottle of white or red for $35. It's the perfect route for folks who aren't picky and want to explore something new over dinner.

Table, Donkey and Stick: In addition to offering beautiful pizzas for delivery and pickup, the folks at this Logan Square eatery will let you dip into their wine program from home, with somm-selected bottles of red, white and rosé (all $22) that will pair perfectly with your pie.

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