No matter where you are in the Windy City, a spectacular wine bar is not far from reach. The best wine bars in Chicago offer up unique bottles you won’t find anywhere else. These bars know how to pair a wine with a dish (and many of the dishes are crafted with locally sourced ingredients by award-winning chefs). Whether you’re new to wine and need some hand-holding or are so well-versed in oenology that you could teach a course on winemaking, you’re going to find something surprising at each of these wine bars.
The 13 Best Chicago Wine Bars
- Best for: Beginners
- Neighborhood: Andersonville
Lindsey Anderson-Perez, owner and sommelier at Uvae in Andersonville, has been at the hospitality game since she was 16 years old. She built Uvae on the idea that anyone can learn about and enjoy wine. The wine bar hosts educational tastings throughout the week and weekly wine flights. Work your way through their wine list this way, or join their wine club and get three (or six, if you upgrade) bottles per month. We love that Uvae’s wine list is broken down into clever sections like “Coy & Complex Whites,” and “Spirited & Charming Reds.” This would help with decision-making, but everything looks too good to choose! Uvae also serves cheese, charcuterie and entrees.
5553 N. Clark St. Chicago, IL 60640
- Best for: Minimalists
- Neighborhood: Avondale
Tasting Table named Cellar Door Provisions one of Chicago’s 20 best restaurants of 2023 (at number nine, it’s just below Avec). After closing during the pandemic, Cellar Door is back with a dedication to simplicity. No reservations, no fuss. Just good Italian food and excellent wine (lots and lots of excellent wine). Cellar Door’s wine list gives patrons a little descriptor for each offering. If you want something “supple, rich and made for food,” order a bottle of the 2016 Naranjuez Pinot Negra. Oh, you have a craving for “elderflowers and peaches?” Go with the 2021 Domaine de Gimios Muscat Sec. Whatever you do, don’t miss a trip to Cellar Door Provisions. (No reservations.)
3025 W. Diversey Ave., Chicago, IL 60647
- Best for: Fine Dining Pairings
- Neighborhood: Lincoln Park
When you visit Michelin-starred Esmé, expect the unexpected. Not only does wine director Tia Barrett focus on female and BIPOC winemakers, she also deliberately pairs gourmet food made by Chef Jenner Tomaska with wines meant to surprise the palate. Every 12 weeks, Esmé partners with a different artist. Gathering inspiration from the artist’s work, Chef Tomaska creates a new series of dishes, flavors and presentations. If you’re not into the tasting menu, you can always pop into Bar Esmé to focus solely on their wines. You can absolutely try a rosé or natural orange wine, but their red list is so extensive, we think it’s best to start there.
2200 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60614
- Best for: Happy Hour and Groups
- Neighborhood: Fulton Market
Proxi also focuses on female winemakers (90 percent of the wine list comes from female owners, importers or makers). Wine director Alex Ring’s work to highlight women has paid off—earlier this summer Proxi served up Marie-Pierre Manciat Cremant de Bourgogne, a bright sparkling wine out of Burgundy, and Ovum’s 2022 Big Salt, a white blend that was so unexpectedly delightful and refreshing, you could taste the Pacific coast spray coming out of the glass. A word of advice: arrive hungry. Choose between the chef’s menu for dinner or order small bites for the table. Though Executive Chef Andrew Zimmerman’s tempura elotes is a fan favorite, we are still salivating over the wood roasted mushrooms and steamed coconut curry custard.
565 W. Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60661
- Best for: Wine and a Show
- Neighborhood: Bronzeville
What do you get when the founder of a community art space and a veteran of the hospitality industry get together? Bronzeville Winery, an inviting wine bar full of art, music, good company and delicious comfort food. Eric Williams (the art guy) and Cecilia Cuff (the industry gal) have built a stylish space featuring domestic and international wines from female, African American and minority winemakers, per their website. Cuff told us wine selections change with the seasons, but right now everyone is obsessed with Nortico Alvarinho by Olé & Obrigado. “Hands down, the best Alvarinho in Portugal,” she said. “A superb example of the grape's hallmark traits: fresh citrus, peach and tropical aromas paired with clean, juicy fruit and vibrant minerality.” Wednesday through Sunday you can catch live DJ sets at Bronzeville Winery.
4420 S. Cottage Grove Ave., Chicago, IL 60653
6. Easy Does It
- Best for: Non-Alcoholic Wine Lovers
- Neighborhood: Logan Square
Easy Does It was supposed to open in August of 2020, but plans were postponed due to a certain global pandemic. When doors finally opened in March 2022, visitors were met with a very laid back, yet intentionally well-designed space. The goal was to appeal to everyone—not just wine snobs or even wine drinkers. A portion of the menu is dedicated to non-alcoholic and low ABV beverages like an N/A sparkling cider from Normandy. Of course, there’s also wine wine. The wine menu is much smaller than other spots on our list, but that’s kind of the point. Trust the Easy Does It team has picked the cream of the crop, then sit back and relax with friends.
2354 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL 60647
- Best for: Hard-to-Find Bottles
- Neighborhood: Ukrainian Village
Owner Erin Carlman Weber says at All Together Now in Chicago’s Ukrainian Village, “We intentionally work with a lot of small producers who may only produce a few cases a year.” This has led to an accessible, yet unique wine list featuring vibrant choices. Join All Together Now’s wine club for monthly perks or set up a private tasting for your group. At their cheese counter you can snag sandwiches to go, or you can sit and dine on a seared albacore tuna salad. Need guidance? Weber says, “Some staff and guest favorites include new-school domestic producers like Ruth Lewandowski and Monument Wines, as well as trailblazers-turned-classics from Europe like Marcel Lapierre, Montenidoli, and Lopez de Heredia.”
2119 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL 60622
- Best for: A Taste of Europe in Chicago
- Neighborhood: North Center
Robert Cervantes grew up in Chicago and recently returned after two decades abroad to open Apero, a wine bar focused on low-intervention and natural wines. He’s calling this resettlement “Chicago 2.0” and is beyond excited about providing an unpretentious, simple, yet moving wine experience to patrons. Terroir, the many elements that go into a particular wine, is very important to Cervantes; he wants patrons to imagine they are lounging in Alsace in northeast France, among rolling hills and vineyards, as they sit on Apero’s patio and sip their wine. To achieve this, order the cheese and homemade bread with the 2021 Pas de Problème Pinot Noir. Walk-ins only.
4160 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL 60618
- Best for: Middle Eastern Wines
- Neighborhood: Lincoln Park
Another Michelin-starred spot on our list? You bet. Chicago is a culinary hot spot and Galit brings the heat. Co-owner and Executive Chef Zach Engel is a James Beard Award-winner and designed a menu to reflect his travels around the world, with a focus on the Middle East. Bar Director Scott Stroemer is a pro, too, and the two restaurateurs have worked together to bring some of the Middle East’s finest wines to Chicago (some of which you can’t get anywhere else in the city). Try Mersel Wine’s Lebnani Abyad, an organic orange wine out of northern Lebanon. You can also support an orphanage in Bethlehem with a purchase of a glass of Cremisan Wine Estate’s Baladi, an earthy red—and those are just by the glass. Bottles are available from countries like Israel, Armenia and Georgia, just to name a few. The prix-fixe menu is four courses and $88 per person.
2429 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL, 60614
10. Red & White
- Best for: Wine Clubbers
- Neighborhood: Wicker Park
Contrary to what its name suggests, the Red & White shop sells tons of bubbles, rosés and orange wines in addition to the classics. Red & White also has a bar space called Noisette where diners can grab apps throughout the week or a full meal on Fridays and Saturdays. Grab a bottle from the shop and pay a $10 corkage fee to sip with dinner, or order by the glass. Intrigued by their wine club? Stop by on Saturdays between 2 and 5 p.m. to sample a flight and get a taste of their membership (members receive five percent off shop purchases and three chosen wines per month for $85). All of Red & White’s wines are natural—and there are always new arrivals waiting to be discovered.
1861 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL 60647
11. Chicago Winery
- Best for: Winemaking Enthusiasts
- Neighborhood: River North
Ever wanted to see how the sausage is made? Well, the wine at least? Then get thee to Chicago Winery. In the heart of bustling River North, Chicago Winery actually makes wine on site. Grapes are sourced from high-quality vineyards around the country by Executive Director Conor McCormack. Stroll into the Tasting Room for a five-wine flight before or after touring the winery itself. (Reservations are not available for the Tasting Room, but you can book a table at Liva, the on-site restaurant open for brunch and dinner.)
739 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60654
12. Rootstock Bar
- Best for: Something New Every Time
- Neighborhood: Humboldt Park
Due to Rootstock’s close relationships with local farmers, the menu changes frequently. Jamie McLennan, Rootstock’s proprietor and wine director, warns that if you check out the menu right now, it could change tomorrow depending on what’s in season. We love this (because it means more reasons to visit a delish Midwestern wine bar more often). Choose from 100 wines by the bottle and 20 by the glass (again, these can change depending on the time of year). “When selecting wines, we definitely lean into a more natural style while keeping the list diverse and, most importantly, accessible,” McLennan says. “A wine that we always offer by the glass when it's available is a bottle from a grower in the Loire Valley named Olicier Cousin called ‘Pur Breton.’ It's a natural expression of Cabernet Franc from Anjou that shows a wilder side of the varietal and is incredibly versatile with our menu.” Say no more. Reservations unavailable.
954 N. California Ave., Chicago, IL 60622
- Best for: Date Night
- Neighborhood: Roscoe Village
It’s a rare day owner Mitch Einhorn isn’t behind the counter at Lush in Roscoe Village offering insight into the best dry Sauv Blanc or sweet red. This atmosphere was exactly his goal when he started Lush back in 2005 (there are now three locations—a second in Evanston and another in West Town). The food menu consists of small and large plates, plus a vast cheese and charcuterie menu that will leave you dreaming about soft, creamy, luxurious French cheeses for weeks (we know this from experience). Check out their calendar for events and never hesitate to ask for samples or advice on how to choose a bottle.
2232 W. Roscoe St, Chicago, IL 60618
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