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Sparkling Red Wine

I had a red Txakolina that I really enjoyed awhile back, can't remember the label. I'd say the white version is probably better, but I did like the red. This isn't a true sparkling wine, though. It's merely a bit effervescent.

Apr 15, 2011
bricap in Wine

Italian grocery

Check out Tony's Deli in the Edison park neighborhood: http://www.tonysdeliandsubs.com/

Apr 04, 2011
bricap in Chicago Area

best food neighborhood in chicago?

My top two food neighborhoods are Lincoln Square and Andersonville.

Apr 04, 2011
bricap in Chicago Area

Trader Joe's Wine Recs?

I have a new one to add: Reves Priorat, only $10. I needed to run it through my Vinturi, just an FYI. It's pretty good for $10, though, considering how expensive Priorats can run.

Mar 29, 2011
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Trader Joe's Wine Recs?

Incanta Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (2005 or 2007), only $11. This one is a rock star.
La Granja Syrah from Carinena, Spain, only $5.
Epicuro Salice Salentino ~$6
There was a Chateauneuf du Pape that was only $10. I'd pay that price all day for it if I ever saw it again. It came out right about when the most recent vintage of CdP was supposed to be released, and I am guessing this was someone's overrun during a very slow year for wine sales. It is not the CdP in the weird shaped bottle that you sometimes see for Cotes du Rhone there. That one wasn't nearly as good as the one I'm talking about.
And I'll mention it again: $4 for Espiral Vinho Verde.
I saw that they just got a Brunello in for only $16, one they claim goes for $40, usually. Anyone try that one yet?

Mar 20, 2011
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new to wine - recommendations

I've made a lot of the mistakes that Bill has mentioned in my past experiences. I learned that not all chardonnay tastes like the heavily oaked stuff from California, for instance. (I commend Bill for not giving up on Pinot Grigio, though.)

My approach is to keep trying new wines. To the OP, if you see a grape on a wine list that you have never heard of, try it. Do not settle for a standby. Keep expanding your tasting experiences. They say there are 3,000 grapes out there. Don't stop at 10. Keep going. And yes, try different regions for the same grape. Try blends, too, even if they have a grape you didn't have a good experience with before. I'm not a big Sauvignon Blanc fan, but I sure liked a white Bordeaux which had SB blended with Semillon, for example.

I love to experiment at Trader Joe's. My mistakes generally cost less than $10 there, and often enough, I find a solid everyday drinker. More often than I expect, anyway. There is a lot of value to be found at that place, but that's for another thread...

Mar 20, 2011
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Bringing Wine to a Mexican Restaurant

Chinon00 mentioned Cab Franc, and this mirrors my experience with Mencia at a BYOB Mexican restaurant here in Chicago. (Mencia is believed to be closely related to, if not the same thing as, Cab Franc.) With a Mexican seafood dish, my $4 Espiral vinho verde from Trader Joe's worked very well, also. Another wine I paired successfully with Mexican food was a red from Mallorca, Spain which was 100% callet. That goes very well with the steak or pork dishes.

Mar 20, 2011
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Trader Joes Wine Picks - Under $8

Another winner I tried last night is the Salice Salentino from Epicuro. The wine market is getting more and more depressed, and this means more and more great deals out there. I used to say that there wasn't much under $10, but I don't think I can say that today.

Jan 04, 2011
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Trader Joes Wine Picks - Under $8

I discovered La Granja syrah for $5 a bottle. Outstanding value. I second the Espiral vinho verde recommendation, also. That one is a regular in my house's rotation during summer.

Jan 03, 2011
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What's good nearby Standard Club hotel?

For a cheap quick lunch around the corner from Standard Club, get some grilled chicken at Chicken Planet.

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Chicken Planet
21 W Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL 60604

May 24, 2010
bricap in Chicago Area

Good lunch in lower loop?

I will leave it to the OP to determine what does or doesn't cut it. While the budget might be unlimited, time might not be unlimited.

Moving up the scale, in the Loop proper:

Italian Village on Monroe, in between Clark and Dearborn.

Rhapsody, at Adams and Wabash

Petterino's, at Randolph and Dearborn (IV is better, though)

The Gage, on Michigan just south of Washington

Atwood Cafe, at State and Washington (haven't tried it, but hear good things)

Cibo Matto, at the WIT Hotel (haven't tried, it, but also hear good things)

State and Lake, also at the WIT Hotel, on State and Lake, of course (also haven't tried)

A little further away, in South Loop:

Mercat a la Planxa, in the Blackstone Hotel (can be kind of noisy, but food wise, this is the best one on my list)

Custom House, on Dearborn just south of Congress

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Custom House Tavern
500 S Dearborn, Chicago, IL 60605

Petterino's
150 North Dearborn, Chicago, IL 60601

Cibo Matto
201 N State St, Chicago, IL 60601

May 14, 2010
bricap in Chicago Area

Good lunch in lower loop?

Sandwich type places:

Hannah's Bretzel, on Washington just east of Wells. Awesome ingredients on a pretzel roll. Great selection of gourmet chocolate bars, also.

Artisan Cellar, at the Merchandise Mart. Have a panini and take home a nice bottle of wine.

Tons of options at the Chicago French Market, which is located under the tracks between Washington and Randolph, just west of the river. Fumare for sandwiches is one of my favorites there, but there are a lot of interesting choices to be had.

May 13, 2010
bricap in Chicago Area

Dirt Cheap but good wines

I'm going to start by saying that raising your limit to $15 will open up a whole different world. It seems like a lot of the best QPR I've run across is in that $10-15 range. You can get a lot of value in Spain and Portugal, as others have suggested. Italy has value, too. I bought a Nobile di Montepulciano from Trader Joe's for $11 or $12 and it was phenomenal. Marques de Caceres Rioja can be found at Costco for $11.

There are values under $10, but they are much harder to find. You will kiss a lot of frogs in your search. I have experimented a lot in this price range, often just to determine if I fundamentally like a particular grape, blend, or region. A Monastrell from Castano (Spain) is less than $10. Altano, a red from Portugal, runs about $10 to $11, and it got rave reviews from Asimov at the New York Times. You can get Bonarda from Argentina for $10 or less, usually, also. And yes, vinho verdes from Portugal are almost always less than $10. Espiral from Trader Joe's, that's my VV pick, and it's only $4. Many Montepulciano d'Abruzzo wines are under $10, as are Nero d'Avola bottles. Southern Italy is a place that has a lot of more obscure grapes with value to be found. I had a vermentino from Sardinia for only $4-5 from Trader Joe's not too long ago, also.

When you're going under $10, always try a new grape/blend/region if you can. Make it a new experience instead of feeling like you're settling for something. "Hey guys, bet you haven't tried this kind of wine before. Let's give this one a shot. We can laugh about it if it sucks, or I can tell you where to get more if you like it." It's just a lot more fun to drink cheap when you get to expand your horizons. Best of luck.

May 11, 2010
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Loire Valley wines

I had a glass of malbec from the Loire just this past weekend. It was similar to a grenache, if you can believe that. It was certainly different from anything I had tried from Argentina or Cahors.

Mar 23, 2010
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Best Sandwich in Phx?

May I suggest the meatball sub at Raffaele's, which is behind the 7-Eleven at 19th Avenue and Glendale?

Mar 06, 2010
bricap in Phoenix

Burgundy vs. New World Pinot Noir

Thanks for the replies, both of you.

NJF, I'm guessing we are into different styles. It happens. I know that there are plenty of people who like a PN from California that has 14.5% ABV and is a sweet cola fruit bomb. I'll never understand that style. I like to see some fruit, mind you, but I don't need for it to take over the wine, and I don't need for it to become syrupy, either. I don't mind that there are a lot of people who like this kind of PN. I just don't like that this kind of PN seems to be crowding out the other styles (in the New World market, anyway), but then that's probably just an extension of the whole high ABV debate.

I've only had a handful of NZ PNs. I generally liked them. I didn't take any notes on them, and they weren't too pricy, but I found them to be quite drinkable. I don't remember burnt being a descriptor that came to mind, though. They just tasted like decent PNs to me.

Jason, that was a thoughtful reply. Yes, I can still like a 14% ABV PN, as I mentioned with the Rubeo. It does happen from time to time. The syrah added a nice kick, I remember, which is why I said if I really wanted PN to taste like syrah, that's the way to go for me. I don't have enough experience with PNs to be talking about all the producers. Regardless of the producer, they still have much of the same climate and terroir to work with in a given region before deciding which style to employ. I haven't had tons of PNs, but it would seem that a few from each region helps to give me some idea in a given price range. Someday I'll try some Burgundies, and even some PNs from other locations, like Germany or Switzerland. I have a lot of different wines I want to try, though. I'm one of those people who has to try as many different grapes (and then in as many regions) as possible before I die, mind you.

Mar 04, 2010
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David Burke's or Gibsons?

A couple of my friends told me of their experiences, and I value their opinions on these matters. In fairness, this was when it was starting out, and it could be attributed to that. Someday, I'll get out and try it. I'm just saying this town has tons of places to try, why limit it to those two places. I ate at Gibson's once, and I did not have a positive experience. I wouldn't go back there, except to people watch. That's just me.

Mar 04, 2010
bricap in Chicago Area

Burgundy vs. New World Pinot Noir

If I want my PN to taste like syrah, I like the Penner Ash Rubeo, which has about 25% syrah. I have tried very little from Burgundy, certainly not enough to have an opinion. I prefer Oregon and New Zealand over California when it comes to the New World. I'm not sure if my problem with California PN is a matter of climate and terroir or the insistence on picking the grapes later than normal. I had a higher end California PN not too long ago and it seemed so overdone. The Rubeo has a high enough ABV, but this one was 14.5%-15%. What is up with high ABV in PNs? Isn't PN a bit delicate for these high percentages?

Mar 03, 2010
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Trader Joe's Wine Recs?

We love that Espiral vinho verde for only $3.99. It's great to have during the summer, especially. Pairs very well with Mexican seafood dishes, too.

Feb 28, 2010
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favorites near the biltmore

Delux in the shopping center on the NW corner of 32nd St. and Camelback. Great burger, and nice touch with the fries in the little shopping cart.

Phoenix City Grill on the SW corner of 16th St. and Bethany Home. Just a really solid place.

Rokerij on the SE corner of 16th St. and Maryland.

After all is said and done, stop in at 5 and Diner at 16th St.and Colter for a shake and listen to some oldies on the little tableside jukebox.

Feb 13, 2010
bricap in Phoenix

Review: St. Francis - Phoenix, Arizona

We ate there when we were in town over the holidays. Absolutely wonderful meal. Good wine list, also. The madeira by the glass is a great value, also, when it comes time for dessert.

Well done on the review.

Feb 13, 2010
bricap in Phoenix

Trader Joe's Wine Recs?

I just opened my bottle of 2005 Incanto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano that I bought at TJ's for about $13 or so. I absolutely loved it. This one is a blend with mostly Sangiovese. One thing I love about Trader Joe's is that I can experiment on the cheap. VNDM is generally more expensive and not the easiest wine to find, so I hadn't really had a chance to try it out otherwise.

Feb 13, 2010
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David Burke's or Gibsons?

Gibson's is vastly overrated, though the comedic value mentioned above is for real. I have not heard too many positives about David Burke's. My vote is for neither.

Chicago has plenty of steakhouses. I would recommend one that is unique to Chicago, if nothing else. Some that come to mind are Chicago Chop House, Gene and Georgetti's, Magnum's, Rosebud's Steakhouse, Phil Stefani's 437 Rush, and Iron Mike's Grill (owned by Ditka himself). I haven't been to any of them in quite awhile. I liked them all.

Feb 13, 2010
bricap in Chicago Area

LUNCH: Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Bucktown, Lincoln Square

I only moved away a couple of months ago, and things have already changed....

Feb 13, 2010
bricap in Chicago Area

LUNCH: Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Bucktown, Lincoln Square

Okay, just remembered two more places. One is Chelsea Grill, though they might only be open for dinner. They have a decent burger that features a fried egg and bacon on a pretzel roll. It's not as good as Kuma's, but you're not going to get into Kuma's anytime soon. They generally serve up comfort food.

There's a sushi place called Tank, also. I hear good things about it, though I'm not a sushi aficionado.

Feb 12, 2010
bricap in Chicago Area

LUNCH: Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Bucktown, Lincoln Square

Wow, how could I forget Bocca della Verita, the one that chicgail seems to be mentioning? Do they serve lunch, though? Great place to eat regardless, though not the cheapest option. At the north end of the Square, Pizza DOC is also a great spot, but I don't know if they do lunch, either. Fiddleheads is another restaurant in the middle of it all. The Tribune has raved about their burgers before. It's kind of overpriced, and the service can be slow sometimes, but they do have moments of brilliance there.

Feb 09, 2010
bricap in Chicago Area

LUNCH: Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Bucktown, Lincoln Square

Lincoln Square: Opart (my favorite Thai in a neighborhood with many to choose from), Caffeneo (sandwiches and crepes), Costello's (sandwiches, also one in Roscoe Village), Jury's (great burgers, though it's just south of Montrose), Daily Bar and Grill, Bad Dog Tavern, Grafton's (authentic Irish; great fish and chips).

Feb 08, 2010
bricap in Chicago Area

Decent Port, $25 - 35ish range?

AJ's is owned by Bashas'. If history is any guide, Eddie will figure it out. The business has survived for years in one of the most competitive retail environments in America.

As for the local retailer, I think it takes a lot of creativity and ingenuity to survive, especially in Phoenix. Whatever an independent does, it cannot offer the same stuff as Costco or Total Wine, or it will get killed. I imagine an independent has to work very hard to build a customer base there. A customer has to have a real compelling reason to consistently shop at an independent over a big box retailer.

Total Wine is an interesting place. It stocks nearly every type of wine, but it still can't do it all. I went in there looking for a Spanish mencia, and they had nothing, for example. They have some Portuguese table wines, but it's far from comprehensive. It's impressive enough that they bother to have any selection of them at all in Phoenix, though, as I imagine it would take a lot of work (driving, phone calls, internet searching, etc.) to find out who in Phoenix bothers with that. I believe most of Total Wine's buying decisions are done at the national level. That does leave room for an independent to carve a niche of sorts.

Feb 07, 2010
bricap in Wine

Decent Port, $25 - 35ish range?

Taylor 2003 LBV is a steal at $18. Taylor 10 year at $16 is a great deal, too.

Bill, I grew up in Phoenix. I've been in AJs a number of times. I find that they often mark prices up in a bad way there. Total Wine often has respectable prices for a lot of wines, but the ports there are usually priced "in line" as opposed to deeply discounted.

Feb 05, 2010
bricap in Wine

America's Biggest Rip-offs

Actually, I have found that quite a few places have dropped prices. I have heard it said a lot that restaurants are finding they sell a lot more wine if they just lower it a bit. I'm even seeing some places selling wines at $5-$6 a glass, and not just the usual boring stuff, either. If they sell two at that price instead of one at the higher price, they get more revenue, and they don't have to waste as much of it. I agree, though, there's nothing worse than seeing pedestrian wines offered at $8 and up per glass.

Feb 05, 2010
bricap in Wine