Wine in Chicago: A rebuttal
I hate to work within the tired Chicago Against The World framework, but hey, the Wall Street Journal started it: Over the weekend Lettie Teague published a piece about Chicago's wine scene, saying "Chicago's wine scene is so vibrant, I'm willing to declare it the second-most important wine city in the country right now."
Second-most important! Now there's an original idea about Chicago. Maybe this second-to-everything idea will catch on. Thank you, Lettie, for your willingness to declare such a thing.
Teague based her assessment on visits to a few wine stores, restaurant and bars—almost all of which were seriously old guard: Binny's, House of Glunz, Blackbird. Somehow she makes a case that in order to understand Chicago's wine scene she has to visit Alinea. (Coming soon: My article on the New York wine scene in which I eat all my meals at Per Se.) She ended the article with a nonsensical Carl Sandburg quote and more assurances that Chicago is "second-best." Which leaves a reference to "da Bears" the only Chicago trope she left out.
Several people, most of them horrified, sent me this article. To them, and to me, it reads as yet another lowest-common-denominator travel piece, an article that makes sweeping generalizations about Chicago with barely any research to back them up.
So here's a rebuttal—Six Chicago Wine Slingers Lettie Teague Missed (in no particular order), any one of which would have pushed Chicago from second place to first:
- : Perhaps the loveliest restaurant that isn't a restaurant. When the place is mostly empty (say, 5pm on a Tuesday), there are few places in the world more pleasant to down a glass of dry riesling. And in case you haven't heard,.
-: All the Lush stores are great, but the Chicago Avenue location wins with its store/bar hybrid. With almost no kitchen, the staff here manages to put out hearty, snacky plates like Welsh Rarebit on the cheap.
- Red and White: Staffed by hipster drinkers (dripsters?) who know what they're talking about, slinging a huge selection of natural wines.
-'s 2nd annual fête de rosé: If you can find a larger by-the-glass selection of rosés...well, no use finishing that sentence, because you can't.
-: Craig Perman is perhaps the sweetest boy in the business. And his unqiue model of wine shop yields unexpected, rare bottles at good prices.
- The biodynamic wine list at. Come on, Lettie, get with the times!