The Art of Food and Wine Pairing

Here at City Winery Chicago, it’s imperative that we perfectly pair food and wine. I work hand-in-hand with our sommelier, Rachel Speckan, to taste our wines and look for flavors and notes that I can pair with food. This spring, I’ve been working closely with Rachel to pair new menu items with her selection of new seasonal wines. As you may have noticed, our menu is laid out as a guide for food and wine pairing—starting with sparkling and whites working on down to reds—to make it easier for guests to make selections.

One new wine we are offering is a sparking wine called Jane Ventura, which is a Cava from Spain. After tasting the Cava, I knew what dish on our new spring menu to pair with it—fried smoked chicken served with a pickled watermelon salad. The effervescence of the sparkling wine stands up to the smokiness of the chicken while the sweetness of the wine goes nicely with watermelon.

We also tasted another new wine, Mercouri, which is a Chardonnay from Greece. It is briny like the sea, so I wanted to pair it with our new scallop dish, which is a pan-seared scallop with celery root and apple puree. The wine complements the natural sweetness of the scallops.

One new red we’re offering is The Loop, which is a Cabernet Sauvignon from California. We have a new lamb offering for spring that we’re really excited about, and I knew I had to match it with the wine’s deep red berry flavors. The homemade lamb merguez is a slightly spicy sausage served with cous cous, toasted Marcona almonds and a roasted red pepper yogurt sauce.

If you want a “sneak peak” of these dishes, we’re currently running them as specials to try them out, so come on in and let us know what you think!

– Chef Andres Barrera

History of the New Year’s Eve Champagne Toast

Champagne is an enduring, delightful classic. It is luxury embodied. It is celebration in a bottle. Champagne was not originally associated with holiday seasons or celebration, but instead marked privilege and excess.

It was the drink of gentlemen and royalty. However, the Houses of Champagne desired an appeal to the lady folk, and launched a marketing campaign to attract women to the bubbly elixir. The brilliant marketing focused upon beautiful labeling and scenes of celebration and events important to women, including weddings, romantic dates, and christenings. Thus, the enchantment of Champagne was ever attached to occasions of import, especially ushering in the New Year.

Since the time of ancient Babylon, 4000 years ago, the grand celebration of the new year has been an integral part of society. Whether a wild rumpus for the grain god of barley, or a nod to Janus (January), the Roman god with a duo of faces, one facing back and the other forward, or the New York City ball drop, there has been worldwide recognition of renewal and reflection. Whether with wish grapes, lentils, black eyed peas, or a flute of Champagne, raise a toast to health, happiness, and prosperity in the New Year!

As old as Champagne itself, is the tradition of using the wine as a base for a compound beverage. Dave Wondrich names it as the first ‘improved cocktail’, the first to stray from a base of a hard spirit. By the 1800s, the classic ‘Champagne Cocktail’ was all the rage at society gatherings and dinner parties, especially. Punches and cups, lemon twist, brandy, and orange liqueur were blended to popular demand, and championed by the bar-tend par excellence, Mister Jerry Thomas.

The variations are endless, and encourage wild innovation. Bubbles make everything better. Perk up your bubbles with a spike of aromatic liqueur, perhaps Koval Honey Chrysanthemum or green Chartreuse. And, be sure to break out the bubbly early (and often) during your holiday celebration. Drink your fireworks.

–written by City Winery Chicago Beverage Director, Rachel Driver-Speckan

Our New Fall Menu

Our new fall menu is here! Browse through the photos below from our staff tasting menu last week! Be sure to click on each to get the full description.

Make reservations today on Open Table!

Click here for the full Barrel Room Dinner Menu


Monday-Friday: Lunch: 11:30am – 3pm, Dinner 5pm – 12am, drinks until 1am.
Saturday & Sunday: Dinner 5pm – 12am, drinks until 1:00am
Happy Hour at the bar daily 5pm – 7pm