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Call me fickle, but I often struggle to finish a whole glass of wine. How can that be? I’m a WSET certified sommelier, but I also eat and drink almost everything. While some people only like analog watches, only eat sushi or only drink bubbly prosecco, I’m someone who likes to try a little bit of everything. A wine experience doesn’t have to have specific rules. That’s why I prefer a tasting wine experience over committing to a bottle of wine.
This goes for both when I’m at home, and when I’m out. With a move to the suburbs very imminent, I wondered what my new suburban wine experience would be like. Will I have the accessibility to wine tasting experiences and quality wine flights like those I’ve found in the city? The answer is, of course, yes. There are a plethora of places for wine tasting in suburban Illinois, so keep reading to find one near you.
D.O.C. Wine Bar Lombard, Illinois
Ambiance: Funky with low lighting and moderate to high noise levels depending on the day.
Type of Wine Experience: Red, white, or bubbly wine flights, with a total of three tasting pours provided.
Cost: Between $19-$29 per flight.
Can’t Miss Food Item: The Wrightwood Salad. With avocado, goat cheese, fresh spinach, and crunchy cornbread croutons, it not only tastes great, it has an excellent mouthfeel. The diversity of veggies and savory cheese means it will pair best with bubbles, whites, or lighter bodied red wines.
Marché Glen Ellyn, Illinois
Ambiance: Bright, comfortable, and a neighborhood gem. Go during the week and it is quiet and spacious. On Thursday evenings through the weekend, prepare for standing room only. This is one of the “it” spots of Glen Ellyn.
Types of Wine Experiences: On a regular visit, you can order wines by the glass, build your own flights, or, for larger groups, consider whole bottles. Because Marché is part-wine-shop and part-dine-in-eatery, bottles are available at a “retail…but more like wholesale” price. If visiting with a group of friends, consider buying a few bottles, paying the $10 corkage fee, and then design your own flights. Heading to dinner before seeing some DuPage Theatre this summer? Consider grabbing a bottle from Marché to bring with you.
There are also ticketed wine tasting events that run a few times a month. These events are based around a theme such as a country, a cheese, or a “test your wine sense” blind tasting. Look here for a list of upcoming classes and events.
Cost: Glasses of wine starting at $8; ticketed events at $45.
Check out the tools I use at home to save wine for later !
Binny’s 40 Locations throughout Northern Illinois
Ambiance: Yes, Binny’s is typically a flourescent lighting, warehouse-style liquor store. But within the walls of said liquor store are some of the most breathtaking wines and knowledgeable staff you’ll ever get the chance to encounter. The stores are pretty straightforward, but offsite events such as Wine Expo and the Food and Wine International are well organized, decorated, and themed.
Types of Wine Experiences: Hold onto your butts! There are many different wine tasting experiences when it comes to Binny’s. At stores, they will have weekend tastings of a few different wines on a rotating basis. But they offer a more nuanced wine experience, like the a seasonal or geographical based wine tasting. Some wine tasting experiences I’ve had at Binny’s include a Champagne tasting at the Downers Grove location, with over 40 different producers sampling champagnes, a California wine tasting event in Oak Brook, and the UGC Bordeaux event in the city each year. The most whimsical event thus far was the Wine Expo, held at Arlington National Park. This event offered classes like how to blind taste and how to blend wines. Sign up for their email list to keep up on all their events.
Cost: Varies. Many of the in store events are free, with some having $10-$15 fees. The offsite events typically run between $50-$100.
Can’t Miss Food Item: Binny’s doesn’t serve fresh food in the stores, but there’s always some interesting jerkies and chocolate snacks near the check out aisles.
Perry’s Steakhouse and Grille Oak Brook, Illinois (and 16 Other Locations Across the Country)
Ambiance: Perry’s is swanky. It’s also the only Midwest location of this well regarded steakhouse. Perry’s currently operates 16 steakhouse locations in Birmingham, Denver, and across Texas, as well as the two original butcher shops now known as Perry & Sons Market & Grille. It’s precisely what you would expect from a high-end steak house. Low lighting, white tablecloths, impeccable service, and cocktail attire abound in the dining room.
Types of Wine Experiences: What I like about Perry’s is that their wine experiences are never stale. With different specials happening each month, there’s always something new to try. When I visited, it was the Pinot and pork chop special, where you could try the Perry’s private label Pinot Noir for $5 less per glass when ordered with their out-of-this-world pork chop.
Cost: A glass of wine starts at $8, and can go all the way up to $50 a glass. But there are rotating specials you can ask about when you visit, or head to slightly less formal Bar 79 for wine and some small noshes.
Can’t Miss Food Item: Do you see that pork chop? It’s smokey, sweet, juicy, and can feed an army. Even if you are a steak eater, give this pork chop a try.
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