A good place to buy a special fine wine?
A non-CH acquaintance in the Chicago area wants to buy a special bottle of wine as a birthday gift for a relative. He asked my advice because I know about wine, but unfortunately I don't live anywhere near Chicago. I will advise him to go to a good wine shop in the area. Recommendations will be appreciated.
Thanks in advance.
I don't think you can find any better place than Sam's Wine around North and Clybourn. Try to find Mark Pucylowski. There's also one in Highland Park (ask for Michael--his taste runs to fine and delicate vs Mark's bigger and fruitier--so describe what you want) or Downers Grove.
Sam's Wines & Spirits
1720 N Marcey St
Chicago, IL 60614
1919 Skokie Valley Rd.
Highland Park, IL 60035
2010 Butterfield Rd.
Downers Grove, IL 60515
(Highland Park is a suburb north of the city, and Downers Grove is west of the city.)
Just Grapes next to the ABN Amro building in the West Loop is my wine shop of choice. justgrapes.net The owner, Don, picks a nice assortment of wine. They also have a tasting machine with a good variety of things you can try before shelling out for the full bottle. Alpana Singh use to be a part of their teaching staff there, not sure if she still is though.
I enjoy a good trip to Sam's; however, a while back I was turned on to Hart Davis Hart's website and have enjoyed browsing through their selections online. They are very successful Chicago-area wine auctioneers, who also happen to do a retail business through their site. Some of the selections are surprisingly affordable. Here's a link:
Sam's is wonderful, but can be a bit overwhelming and crowded.
I also enjoy Randolph Wine Cellars (1415 W Randolph St). The staff is extremely helpful and will give you some tastings to help clarify what you like and narrow your selection.
You can also head to their tasting room for some great small bites and a few flights.
The Wine Cellar in Palatine on Northwest Highway is one of the very best places to find special wines. They get wines that are virtually impossible to find at most Chicagoland wine shops ("cult" wines, wines wth very limited allocations, etc.) Great place for unique high-value wines, too. My favorite wine store by far. Super-friendly service, too. Especially good selection of the best Australian wines and smaller California wineries. A true "hidden gem." After shopping at Sam's for years, The Wine Cellar now gets almost all of my business.
Keep in mind that the Chicago area is huge, roughly 100 miles north to south and 60 miles east to west. You might want to choose one of the recommendations here based on its proximity to your friend and where he lives/works. (The places within the city are all close to downtown Chicago; Sam's, as previously mentioned, also has locations in suburbs north and west of Chicago; and Palatine is northwest of Chicago.) If you can tell us what town he lives in, we might be able to recommend something reasonably close by.
Thanks for all the information. I don't know where in the area he is located.
I will pass all this information along to him.
The wine is for a 70th birthday, so it can't require a lot of aging!
Judging only from the websites, the Hart Davis Hart selection might be more of interest than the Sam's store. I think he is looking for something really old and unique -- but we don't have time to use an auction site like Sotheby's/Christies or to go online.