Wine may not be as trendy as craft beer these days, but many Chicago restaurants can still build a great list. Eater asked four of Chicago's most acclaimed sommeliers for their favorites—Michael Muser (Grace, a 2014 Food & Wine Sommelier of the Year), Alpana Singh (The Boarding House), Jon McDaniel (Henri, The Gage) and Richard Hanauer (RPM Steak). Their picks for the top 11 wine lists in Chicago are below.Read More
Sommeliers' Top 11 Chicago Wine Lists, Mapped
If you ask sommeliers about their favorite wine lists in Chicago, nearly all of them will mention Andrew Zimmerman's Near West Side restaurant. Alpana Singh is one of the many admirers.
Hanauer absolutely gushes about the wine list at TRU. "These are the romantic wines that have no rivals. Though the list is studded with interesting and approachable wines, one goes to enjoy the finest wines ever made."
The Purple Pig
The wine list at the perpetually-busy Bannos restaurant on Michigan Avenue is highlighted by many, including Michael Muser. He casts a spotlight on the wines from Friuli, Italy, on "a focused list of completely Italian (wines)."
Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse
McDaniel loves the "big, massive, rich reds" at the steakhouse he says offers more depth of Cabernets than any other. "If I had an expense account and some clients from Nebraska I needed to impress, Del Frisco's would get my boss's money every time."
Telegraph Wine Bar
Out in Logan Square, sommeliers describe the Telegraph list as an outstanding selection of wines that's somehow kept affordable. "The entire list is filled with great tasting wines that come from obscure grapes and regions," says Hanauer. "Telegraph has become the greatest collection of these wines in the city."
Vera's selection is a favorite of the former Check, Please host Alpana Singh. Most-known for its amazing selection of sherry, Elizabeth Mendez's selection of Spanish wines is no joke either.
When The Bristol opened in 2008, it was more casual and the beverage menu focused on beer. They now offer one of the best wine selections in Chicago. "The Bristol has a wine list that's serious but not snobby," McDaniel says. "You can find great little wines you may never have heard of for a great price."
Michael Muser is thoroughly impressed with the wine list at Carrie and Michael Nahabedian's second restaurant. He highlights the "outstanding grower champagne selection" first and foremost.
McDaniel says Les Nomades features the best selection of French wines in Chicago. "Amazing Champagne, Burgundy, Bordeaux, older vintages of some classic gems, (and a) really interesting and deep dessert wine selection."
The Boarding House
Hanauer exalts master sommelier Singh's artisan wine selection at her Wells Street palace. "Whether it be an upcoming appellation, an odd producer, or an extraordinary vintage, every wine on the menu is impressive for its own reason."
While you may not think of Embeya as a wine haven, McDaniel says chef Thai Dang's Asian flavors pair perfectly with slightly sweet, aromatic wines. "Embeya has the best selection of riesling in the city, with over 50 selections from around the world."