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Chicago wine stores

I am going to be in Chicago for a month and will be staying near Michigan Ave. What are the best wine stores in Chicago? Especially interested in California and Oregon wines. Also would like to know if there are sales people that are particularly knowledgeable.

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  1. Sam's is massive....great selection, very knowledgable. good Prices
    www.samswine.com

    1 Reply
    1. re: chrisinroch

      You know sams is indeed massive, but to find really top quality wines, even at a bargain, is a really hard thing to do there- they mix in a LOT of junk with their wines. Some folks are very knowlegabe, a lot of folks in there seem to have an attitude like "it's saturday, I'm tired and don't feel like chatting with you about wine." Why did it take me 30 minutes to find someone who could point me in the direction of 99 Bourdeaux?

    2. www.winediscountcenter.com

      1. Neither Sam's nor winediscountcenter are walkable from Michigan Ave, but they are accessible via public transit as well as having parking if you drive. If you are picking up a bottle or two you can slip them in a backpack so don't look like a wino on the bus, but if you need more they both deliver.

        The Fox & Obel is walking distance from Michigan Ave, you will get a spiffy bag that you'll be proud to walk around. They have some very good wine staff (Friday night tastings!)and for a pricey grocery store, have some fair prices on wine. http://www.fox-obel.com/market/wineli...

        2 Replies
        1. re: renov8r

          Sam's downtown does have a huge selection. The difference between Sam's and WDC is that the latter only sells (very) good, drinkable wine (whereas Sam's sells everything). WDC per bottle prices are 20 - 30% less than Sam's and other liquor stores. We once bought a couple cases for an event and asked for a discount and we were told that they don't discount cases (as Sam's does) because the bottles are already discounted. We stopped going to Sam's years ago because the quality at WDC is so high and the prices reasonable. More for Chicagoans, though, as the lcoations are out of the way.

          1. re: SandraB

            WDC is awesome. A great place to stock your wine fridge. They have free tastings on Saturday afternoons (12-4pm) which are sometimes very good but always above average. Last week we tasted almost 20 wines there.

            If you are looking for a large selection, however, WDC is not the place to go but Sam's wine is. Have never bought wine at Fox and Obel but they do have a nice selection of high quality (read high price) bottles.

            To get to Sam's via public transportation, take the Red line to North/Clybourn. WDC is a 1 mile walk away, although you may not find the route terribly scenic.

        2. There is a Binny's Beverage Depot at 213 W. Grand Ave. (About 3 blocks west of Michigan Avenue) --this is walkable, depending on how far north or south you are of Grand.

          1 Reply
          1. re: EDL

            OK, after reading my original post, I realize that--to an out-of-towner--Binny's may sound like "random liquor store" but I assure you it is not. The staff is very knowlegable, and I find the wine selection to be quite good. www.binnys.com

            There is also Uncorkit Chicago, near Michigan on Illinois (across from Fox &Obel), which also has a great selection & helpful staff. http://www.uncorkitchicago.com/

          2. best wine store in chicago with most knowledgeable staff (ask for Gary) is Fine Wine Brokers. it's a bit of treck, but if you want to find some really great bottles it's the place to go. he focuses on smaller, artisanal producers, always great quality to value and a huge range of wines you won't get at other places.
            4621 N lincoln ave
            chicago, il 60625
            it's off the brown line western stop.

            1. My favorite wine story is Kafka on Halsted. It is in Lakeview in the Boystown area. Great staff and lots of great values there. These boys know their stuff and you can wander this graat neighborhood after.

              1. I enjoy "Just Grapes" on Washington right by the Ogilvy Metra station.

                They always have tastings and the live tasting machine is a blast! With 25 live wines to always sample from. The staff is great and the selection is respectable, but not too overwhelming with all the common lable crap that everyone else has.

                1. In the Merchandise Mart (right on the river between Wells and Orleans, a quick walk from Michigan Ave.) on the first floor is a hidden gem of a wine shop called Artisan Cellar. It is a great little shop that offers around 1,400 wine choices, with a focus on smaller producers and boutique wine. The owner is extremely knowledgeable and helped me a few weeks ago pick out a wonderful Pinot Noir from Oregon that has become a new favorite.

                  1. I used to spend a lot of time in Chicago with the folks, after I moved away, and I LOVE the wine section at the Whole Foods store on North and Clybourn. I really appreciated that I could get the quality food and wine I needed in one stop, and the wine buyer must have stepped inside my brain, because nearly everything I picked up was spot on.

                    I was just there again recently, and was glad to find that things had not changed.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ChefJune

                      I like Artisan Cellar as well. Very interesting wines and everything I have bought there has been excellent for its price.

                    2. Check out Trotter's to Go! I buy all the wine for the store, for the next month, and I got value and the pricey stuff also. I would be more than happy to help you out with anything!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: cbutleriv

                        I have been to Charlie Trotter.s several times. Where is Trotter's To Go and whom do I ask for ?

                        1. re: rebus1805

                          trotter's to Go is located on 1337 W. Fullerton and you can ask for myself, Charles or Deborah. We do free tastings every Friday and impromptu tastings throughout the week.

                      2. Another option that is easily walkable from Michigan Avenue is The Cheese Chalet. The name suggests that they focus on cheese, which they do and have a delectable selection, but also an interesting wine selection.

                        If you want to trek further out, In Fine Times is my favorite. They have an excellent selection of California/Oregon wines and usually do complimentary tastings on Saturday afternoons. The owners are always there and ready to help you find that delicious wine you've been looking for.
                        The Cheese Chalet
                        40 E Delaware Pl
                        Chicago, IL
                        60611-1429
                        Phone: (312) 787-8555

                        1. We just opened up ThePoisonCup @ 1128 W Armitage Avenue a couple of months ago. We do have alot of California wines, especially from Paso Robles. You can take the brown line up to Armitage and then walk about two and half blocks west to our store. We have free tastings every Tuesday and we rotate artists. www.poisoncup.com

                          -----
                          The Poison Cup
                          1128 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60614

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: jcwitte

                            I was just getting ready to recommend The Poison Cup! We have been several times and the owners are extremely friendly and helpful. They know the story behind every bottle of wine they sell and can give you several options in a variety of price ranges. I always love a place where you can get some truly great wines for under $20. This is our new favorite wine store in the city!