Andersonville Wine & Spirits
5201 N. Clark St. in Andersonville; 773-769-0858
Wine buyer: Elias Bousheh

Cabernet Sauvignon: $20 to $40
2008 Stag’s Leap, Artemis (Napa Valley) $39.99
“When I want a rich, layered cab, this wine does it for me every time—lots of blackberry and currant; the spice and oak are perfect. Enjoy this with a steak or just sitting by the fireplace.”

Champagne/Sparkling: Under $20
NV Bele Casel (Veneto) $13.99
“This amazing prosecco is made by Danilo Ferraro in his garage. He usually limits production to 3,600 bottles, but amazingly he released 50,000 this year. The winery is located in Veneto’s Prosecco di Valdobbiadene appellation, which is considered the best. This richly textured and aromatic wine surpasses the quality of many other producers.”

Champagne/Sparkling: $20 to $40
NV Henriot, Brut Souverain (Champagne) $36.99
“This great bottle from a family-owned house shows you’re not following the crowd. The grapes—equal parts chardonnay and pinot noir—are all from the best vineyards of Champagne.”

Dessert: Under $20
2009 Quady, Essensia (Central Valley) $16.99
“Orange Blossom muscat grapes are used to make this California dessert wine, which Andrew Quady has been making since 1980. This variety of muscat, called Moscato fior d’Arancio, was originally found in France, Spain, and Italy. The aromas are reminiscent of orange blossoms and apricot. On the palate, it is not too syrupy.”

Grenache/Tempranillo: $20 to $40
2005 Allende (Rioja) $25.99
“This is a wine you want to drink when you are having a romantic dinner: It is sexy, beautiful, and masculine. It keeps you thinking and focused, because the flavors and aromas change with every sip. I consider the winemaker, Miguel Angel de Gregorio, among Rioja’s best.”

Sangiovese: Under $20
2008 Barbi, Brusco dei Barbi (Tuscany) $12.99
“With sangiovese, you rarely go wrong buying the least expensive wine from a quality winery. This one is very Tuscan—lots of acid, enough cherry fruit, and an affinity for grilled meats and tomato sauces.”


Binny’s Beverage Depot
1720 N. Marcey St. in Lincoln Park; 312-664-4394, (also 26 other locations)
Wine buyers: Bob Calamia [BC] and Barbara Hermann [BH]

Champagne/Sparkling: Under $20
NV Rack & Riddle, Blanc de Noirs (Mendocino County) $18.99
“I picked this wine because it changed my opinion of California sparklers. Most are guilty of one or more of the following: too fruity, too monolithic, too coarse, or too expensive. This one manages to avoid all of those flaws. It has subtle layers of aromatics and flavors—raspberry, pears, toast—one nuance making way for the next. Great texture too.” [BC]

Chardonnay: Under $20
2010 Château de La Greffière (Mâcon) $14.99
“I’ve been buying this wine for ten years, and I think it’s the finest Mâcon for the money. It’s a pure expression of chardonnay—refined, long, and elegant with subtle oak. Perfect with food.” [BH]

Chardonnay: $20 to $40
2010 Beringer, Private Reserve (Napa Valley) $29.99
“This big-production wine overdelivers for the price and is a benchmark for rich, complex chardonnay. I can’t tell you how many times it has beat white Burgundies in blend tastings.” [BH]

Grenache: Under $20
2010 Borsao Tinto (Campo de Borja) $7.99
“This Spanish grenache is the closest thing to a five-in-one tool I have seen: good balance of fruit and acidity, versatile at the table, and more complexity than you’d expect for such a modestly priced wine.” [BC]

Grenache: $20 to $40
2009 Alto Moncayo, Veraton (Campo de Borja) $25.99
“This wine displays lots of blackberry fruit, right up to the edge of what I would call pie filling, and a good amount of new French oak. This is a hedonistic wine that some may dismiss as too obvious or flashy or too heavy to work with food. But if wine is a beverage of pleasure, you can’t do much better for the price.” [BC]

Pinot Noir: Under $20
2009 Poppy (Monterey County) $14.99
“I tasted this last summer out in California, and I was glad to see a wholesaler bring it in. This is a cool-climate pinot noir with a subtle touch of oak, a meaty aroma, smoky notes, and a refined, silky mouth.” [BH]

Pinot Noir: $20 to $40
2009 Joseph Swan, Cuvée de Trois (Russian River Valley) $29.99
“The winemaker Rod Berglund is a master with pinot noir. This wine blends the fuller-bodied and ripe style of California winemaking with a beautiful clarity of fruit and a long, fresh finish.” [BH]

Riesling: Under $20
2010 Leitz, Dragonstone (Rheingau) $17.99
“This is a textbook illustration of balance in a riesling. There is sweetness, but almost immediately the lemon-citrus acidity kicks in, and the two sensations compete for your attention.” [BC]

Sangiovese: Under $20
2009 Marchesi Torrigiani (Chianti) $9.99
“The estate is just outside the famous Chianti Classico zone, so the prices of its wines are lower. This Chianti is perfect for pasta and pizza, with classic fresh sour cherry fruit and a mouthwatering finish.” [BH]

Sauvignon Blanc: $20 to $40:
2010 Pascal Jolivet (Sancerre) $22.99
“Sauvignon blancs from Sancerre are among the most distinctive and intense representation of the grape—pure fruit, no oak, chalky, flinty with high acidity—and may not be for everyone. To find out, start here. This wine is extremely consistent, less expensive, and readily available, and it tastes exactly as a Sancerre should, without being too sharp or acidic for someone accustomed to the fruity style so popular now.” [BC]


The Bottle Shop
1148 Central Ave., Wilmette; 847-256-7777,
Wine buyer: Amy Lafontant

Cabernet Sauvignon: Under $20
2010 Les Traverses de Fontanès (Languedoc-Rousillon) $13.95
“This cabernet sauvignon has a fruit-forwardness that hints of Bordeaux, but at $14, it’s a steal. This is a great wine for people who think cabs are too big; it has elegance and a long finish.”

Chardonnay: Under $20
2009 Melville, Estate-Verna’s (Santa Barbara) $19.95
“Melville is one of the few wineries making lots of varietals and producing wines that are all fantastic and inexpensive for the quality. The Verna’s is perfectly balanced and gently whispers its wonderfulness—rare for a California chardonnay.”

Chardonnay: $20 to $40
2009 Servin, Première Cuvée Les Pargues (Chablis) $27
“In college, I thought Chablis meant bad, sour wine. Now I think of it as the cleanest, most refreshing white wine on the planet. This wine is gulpable stuff and smells as fresh as it tastes. A real treat.”

Grenache/Tempranillo: Under $20
2010 Terum (Aragón) $8.95
“Large co-ops create most of Spain’s bulk wines, and Aragón, this wine’s region, is an area of huge temperature extremes. But who cares? So what if lots and lots of this wine is made? It’s cheap, smoothe, and wonderful paired with anything.”

Pinot Noir: Under $20
2009 Jacques Girardin (Burgundy) $17.95
“This is Burgundy, the good stuff, for under 20 bucks. It’s still flying off the shelf because no one can believe the price for the quality. An entry-level wine from an established French winemaking family, it has the delicate fruit and earthy notes that make even newbies to pinot go gaga.”

Riesling: Under $20
2010 Clean Slate (Mosel) $9.95
“This German riesling is the very wine served at The Pump Room today for $12 a glass. This is a wine even men enjoy. It’s got nice acidity; it’s 10 percent alcohol, so it’s not too dry or too sweet; and it’s wonderful with food.”

Sauvignon Blanc: Under $20
2010 Indaba (Western Cape) $8.95
“Robert Parker calls Indaba wines ‘mind-boggling values’; finally I concur with Bobby P. This has been the biggest-selling white in my shop’s history. People will buy a $40 cab and this $9 sauvignon blanc for a dinner party. It’s clean and crisp with great minerality. It also has a screw top, so it’s easy for picnics and the beach. And with all the storms over the summer, a lot of people wanted wines that could be opened in the dark.”

Syrah/Shiraz: Under $20
2010 Charles Smith, Boom Boom! (Washington) $16.95
“I was surprised when I started tasting Charles Smith wines because although they have a lot of fruit, a lot of alcohol, and loud labels, they are well balanced and easy to drink. Sometimes too easy. But the best part is that they have helped move people away from expensive Napa cabs and [toward] exciting, less expensive Washington State wines.”

Syrah/Shiraz: $20 to $40
2009 Luca, Laborde Double Select (Uco Valley) $24
“Luca wines from Argentina come in big black bottles that could double as weapons. This syrah is big and heavy too, but it is so well balanced that it drinks easily and almost has the elegance of a French wine.”


Cellar Rat Wine
1811 W. North Ave. in Wicker Park; 773-489-2728,
Wine buyer: Dean Schlabowske

Pinot Noir: Under $20
2009 Cave Saint Verny, Le Pinot Noir (Loire Valley) $14.99
“It’s tough to find drinkable pinot noir in this price range. While it might not please lovers of California fruit bombs, this wine drinks like an entry-level Burgundy—nice acid, fresh, vibrant berry fruit, and a hint of minerality.”

Riesling: $20 to $40
2009 Domaine Zind-Humbrecht (Alsace) $29.99
“Serve this to the riesling haters in your crowd and watch their puzzled expressions as they taste a world-class, dry riesling—the traditional style in Alsace—from one of the region’s top winemakers. If this doesn’t open their eyes to the world’s greatest white-wine grape, nothing will.”

Sauvignon Blanc: Under $20
2010 Domaine Frissant (Touraine) $14.99
“A baby Sancerre from the neighboring region of Touraine, this wine has all the zip of New Zealand sauvignon blancs without the over-the-top grapefruit and residual sugar. It’s affordable and tasty.”

Syrah/Shiraz: $20 to $40
2009 Baker Lane, Cuvée (Sonoma Coast) $29.99
“Once some folks in California realized that syrah loves a truly cool climate—after all, the grape originates in the cool northern Rhone Valley—we started seeing wonderful, peppery, aromatic, silky wines like this one. Message? Grow the syrah where the pinot noir thrives, not where the cabernet does.”


In Fine Spirits
5420 N. Clark St. in Andersonville; 773-506-9463,
Wine buyer: Shane Kissack

Cabernet Sauvignon: $20 to $40
2007 Scherrer, Alexander Valley (Sonoma County) $28.50
“Scherrer makes full-flavored wines that express the personality of where they were grown. This cab has cassis and plum—with a touch of French oak. Only 280 cases were made.”

Dessert: Under $20
2009 Foris, Muscat Frizzante (Rogue Valley) $15
“In 1971, Ted and Meri Gerber purchased hillside acreage in southern Oregon’s remote Rogue Valley with the specific intention of growing grapes. Starting from scratch, they built a house, bought the land that is now Gerber Vineyards, and began planting. Made in a frizzante style, this southern Oregon muscat shows a little bubble and a juicy sweetness.”

Pinot Noir: Under $20
2010 Schreckbichl Colterenzio, Pinot Nero (Alto Adige) $18
“This winery has made great strides over the last decad, moving toward sustainability in both the vineyards and the winery. This northern Italian take on the classic varietal sourced from vineyards in and around Alto Adige shows great balance of cherry and earth with some nice spice on the back end. This wine is quickly becoming our go-to recommendation for people who need a bottle to take down the street to Great Lake.”

Pinot Noir: $20 to $40
2008 Lumos, Temperance Hill (Willamette Valley) $33
“All the grapes used in the Lumos wines are grown using organic-based fertilizers, certified organic fungicides, and mechanical cultivation rather than herbicides. Cherry fruit and savory notes abound in this pinot noir from one of Oregon’s prized vineyards.”

Riesling: $20 to $40
2010 Brooks, Sweet P (Willamette Valley) $25
“Founded in 1998, this winery practices organic and biodynamic farming in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. As the name suggests, this riesling is on the sweet side, but it is balanced with peach fruit and great acidity.”

Sauvignon Blanc: Under $20
2010 And Co., The Supernatural (Hawke’s Bay) $19.50
“Gabrielle Simmers makes this wine from a family-owned, organically farmed vineyard in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand, and it is one of the few sauvignon blancs produced in the region. The wine is made from grapes harvested by hand and contains no flavor-enhancing additives. The wine—richer in style than other sauvignon blancs made in New Zealand—shows passion fruit, fig, lime, and a hint of honeysuckle.”


Knightsbridge Wine Shoppe
824 Sunset Ridge Rd., Northbrook; 847-498-9300,
Wine buyer: Kevin Mohalley

Grenache/Tempranillo: Over $40
2006 Alión (Ribera del Duero) $79
“Many of the wines from this region in Spain have too much tannin. Not the Alión. This big, full-bodied tempranillo has Asian spice on the nose while maintaining a juicy core of fruit on the palate.”

Dessert: Over $40
2005 Château d’Yquem (Sauternes) $799
“There is no finer Sauternes than Château d’Yquem. The vineyard’s location between two rivers, one warmer and one cooler, contributes to the noble rot that makes Château d’Yquem so great. The concentration of the wine is breathtaking, yet the finish is clean and precise. Never overly sweet, just perfect.”

Cabernet Sauvignon: Over $40
2005 Clos du Marquis (Saint-Julien) $65
“This is the second wine of the famous Leoville Las Case from 2005, one of the truly great vintages in Bordeaux. Given the incredibly high prices of classified Bordeaux, this is a great value. While the black currant and cassis tend to dominate the nose, this wine also has a fine floral character—and an intriguingly long finish.”

Pinot Noir: Over $40
2009 Mugnier, Clos de la Maréchale (Nuits-St.-Georges) $79
“The Maréchale vineyard produces the highest quality pinot noir possible. I love this wine’s richness and density of fruit and its spicy minerality.”

Riesling: Over $40
2007 Egon Müller, Scharzhofberger Spätlese (Mosel) $99
“The vineyards are blue slate and steeply pitched at a perfect angle to the sun. The freshness of this wine is incredible—almost like biting into a Granny Smith apple.”

Sangiovese: Over $40
2004 Valdicava (Brunello di Montalcino) $89
“Conditions in Tuscany were perfect in 2004. With such pristine grapes, Valdicava made a stunning brunello that has depth of fruit combined with floral scents. Decant if drinking now.”

Sauvignon Blanc: Over $40
2009 Domaine Pascal Cotat, Les Monts Damnés (Sancerre) $49
“Sancerre is the best place to grow sauvignon blanc. Aromatic with a zippy lemon-lime zest, this wine has a mouthwatering freshness of fruit that keeps you coming back for more.”

Syrah/Shiraz: Over $40
2007 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave (Hermitage) $229
“From an assemblage of 18 parcels with different soils, this Hermitage is incredibly complex. It’s a must-have for the syrah lover, with plum and cherry fruits and aromas of spice and incense.”


Lush Wine and Spirits
2232 W. Roscoe St. in Roscoe Village; 773-281-8888, (also in West Town and University Village)
Wine buyer: Rachel Driver

Dessert wine: Under $20
NV Beckmen Vineyards, Late Harvest (Santa Ynez Valley) $16
“Tom Beckmen took a chance on an unplanted 365-acre property that, it turns out, could produce world-class Rhône varietals. This wine has notes of burnt pineapple, fresh cream, and honey.”

Pinot Noir: Under $20
2007 Cave Spring (Erie Peninsula) $19.50
“Canadian wine? Hell, yes! With the buffering effects of the Great Lakes, abundant sunshine, cool nights, and windy days, this region is producing beautiful pinot noir. With violet, plum, pomegranate, and cherry on the palate, this wine is transparent, delicate, varietally correct, and, most important, yummy—an elegant glass of pinot for the adventurous drinker.”

Riesling: $20 to $40
2009 Pikes, Traditionale (Clare Valley) $23.75
“This extremely dry riesling—driven by notes of slate, river water, lime zest, and white blossoms—echoes the classics but certainly speaks Aussie. It is a touch more lush than the aromas suggest but maintains its long, clean lines with citrusy grapefruit and lime rind. Perfect for oysters.”


Perman Wine Selections
802 W. Washington Blvd. in the West Loop; 312-666-4417,
Wine buyer: Craig Perman

Champagne/Sparkling: Under $20
NV Avinyó, Cava Brut Nature Reserva (Penedès) $19.99
“This is an outstanding value in cava, Spain’s sparkling wine. The brut nature style—no added sugar—is fashionable in Spain, but it takes well-farmed fruit to craft a balanced wine.”

Champagne/Sparkling: $20 to $40
2009 Silvano Follador, Metodo Classico Dosaggio Zero (Valdobbiadene) $31.99
“One of Italy’s greatest sparkling wines, this one shows the heights that can be achieved with the prosecco varietal. The vineyards of Silvano Follador sit on the prized Catizze hillside of Valdobbiadene. Many wines in this region can claim to be 100 percent prosecco, but only this one undergoes secondary fermentation in bottle, sits on its lees for 16 months before disgorgement, and doesn’t receive any sugar on its secondary dosage. Only 3,500 bottles were produced.”

Grenache/Tempranillo: Under $20
2006 Domaine La Madura (Saint-Chinian) $17.99
“I love this wine because it speaks of a place—the wild and beautiful Saint-Chinian in the western Languedoc. A blend of primarily grenache and carignan, this wine paints a particularly elegant picture of the region and pairs well with a wide range of meats.”

Grenache/Tempranillo: $20 to $40
2008 Vendrell Rived, L’Alleu (Montsant) $23.99
“The U.S. has been inundated with atrocious fruit bombs from Spain. Those are not real Spanish wines. This is: medium-bodied, with well-defined layers of fruit, spice, and herbs.”


Provenance Food and Wine
2528 N. California Ave. in Logan Square; 773-384-0699, (also in Lincoln Square, 2312 W. Leland Ave., 773-784-2314)
Wine buyer: Tracy Kellner

Dessert: $20 to $40
2008 Château Les Justices (Sauternes) $34.99 for 375 mL
(only at Lincoln Square location)
“This wine has the classic profile of Sauternes: voluptuous yet with delicate floral and fruit notes. It’s a fantastic match for blue cheese, foie gras, and duck breast—and a steal at this price.” (Only at Lincoln Square location.)

Pinot Noir: $20 to $40
2008 Berthelemot Monthelie (Burgundy) $32
(only at Lincoln Square location)
“I love this wine. The vineyards are near Mersault/Volnay and the wines from old vines. This pinot noir has everything—elegance, balance, structure—that everyone should love about a red wine.”

Sauvignon Blanc: Under $20
2010 The Shakedown (Paso Robles) $14.50
“This wine from California’s central coast is the most un–Sauvignon blanc sauvignon blanc I have encountered. Made with 75 percent sauvignon blanc, plus viognier and muscat, this wine is superweird and superdelicious. It’s rich, ripe, nutty, floral, and aromatic, with a tinge of residual sugar.”


Red & White Wines
1861 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Bucktown; 773-486-4769,

Wine buyer: Nathan Adams

Grenache/Tempranillo: $20 to $40
200989 Monpertuis, Vignoble de la Ramière (Côtes du Rhône) $20
“This wine’s wild floral and herbal notes are tempered by generous acidity and vivaciously bright fruit. Serve it with roasted game birds.”

Sangiovese: $20 to $40
2008 Montevertine, Pian del Ciampolo (Tuscany) $32
“This sangiovese blend has sumptuous violet and rose petal on the nose, vibrant fruit, and subtle complexity, and it finishes with a touch of bright acidity. Excellent with pork.”

Syrah/Shiraz: Under $20
2009 Sentinelle de Massiac, Minervois (Languedoc-Roussillon) $14
“A blend of carignan and syrah, this wine has notes of fresh black fruits, dried fig and plum, an expressive spice, and ripe fruit tannins. It’s an excellent alternative for the zinfandel crowd. Think barbecue.”


Que Syrah Fine Wines
3726 N. Southport Ave. in Lake View; 773-871-8888,
Wine buyer: Don Hupp

Syrah/Shiraz: Under $20
2008 Earthworks (Barossa Valley) $16.95
“This juicy shiraz has flavors of wild blackberries and Black Forest cake and ripe tannins, yet it pulls back with enough acidity and elegance. It’s a big wine that doesn’t overwhelm the palate. You’ll want a second glass.”

Sangiovese: $20 to $40
2006 La Spinetta, Il Gentile di Casanova (Tuscany) $29.95
“A baby brunello made from the same clone as the famous brunello, with aromas of superripe cherries, tobacco, spices, and a long lovely finish.”


Wine Discount Center
1826 N. Elston Ave. in Lincoln Park; 773-489-3454, (also in Barrington, Forest Park, Highland Park, and Naperville)
Wine buyer: Matt James

Cabernet Sauvignon: Over $40
2008 Round Pond Estate (Napa Valley) $42.99
“This is a Napa Valley cab where the stuff in the bottle is more important than the name on the label. This magnificent wine is full-bodied and velvety, yet structured. It overdelivers in a major way.”

Champagne/Sparkling: Over $40
2006 Vilmart & Cie, Grand Cellier d'Or Premier Cru (Champagne) $79.99
“Eighty percent chardonnay and 20 percent pinot noir, this Champagne will get even better with age. It has depth, minerality, and, most important, deliciousness.”

Chardonnay: Over $40
2009 Jean-Nöel Gagnard, Les Chaumées (Chassagne-Montrachet) $49.99
“Essentially, this is a classic white Burgundy showing power and great acidity, as well as beautiful orchard fruit and even a hint of lightly buttered popcorn.”

Dessert: Over $40
2010 Leitz, Geisenheimer Rothenberg Riesling (Rheingau) $89.99
“This Eiswein is a clean and refreshing gathering of ripe pears and stone fruit. The fact that the grapes are picked the day after Christmas adds a magical element.”

Grenache/Tempranillo: Over $40
2005 Altanza, Club Lealtanza Reserva (Rioja) $47.99
“If you throw this stellar Spanish Rioja in a decanter for a few hours, you can probably enjoy it right now. But ideally this is one for the cellar. Dense and earthy with black fruit character, leather, and pencil lead, this is a wine for the serious Rioja drinker.”

Sauvignon Blanc: $20 to $40
2010 Heidi Schröck (Neusiedlersee-Hügelland) $25.99
“This Austrian sauvignon blanc could fool people into thinking they were drinking one of the finest whites from the Loire Valley. The nose is of salty minerals, and the flavors of citrus and litchi.”