Drink of the week:
A glass of Doniene Gorrondona 2004 Bizkaiko Txakolina, a red wine from Spain's Basque Country, at Webster's Wine Bar
, 1480 W. Webster Ave., on a Sunday night.
The damage: $4 taste, $8 glass and $34 for the bottle.
Thousands of bars in Chicago, why this one? When it comes to legs, body, acidity or age, I know little about wine. But I do know that there's no better way to wind down a weekend than with a glass of wine at Webster's Wine Bar. The oldest wine bar in Chicago, Webster's has a classic, refined feel that could soothe any soul dreading the work week ahead and a wine list that couldn't be better if Bordeaux were in its backyard. The friendly staff seems to have a photographic memory when it comes to wine details, and they aren't shy about sharing the scoop to help you shed your amateur ways, which is why I can go on to describe this wine beyond the word 'tasty.'
How it went down: Gorrondona is one of the rarest wines in the world. Webster's is the only place in Chicago, likely the only place in the country, to carry it along with a few spots in Spain. Its appeal factors down to simple supply and demand. The less of something that exists, the more valuable it feels. But beyond its scarcity, Gorrondona's spicy aroma and smoky taste resembles no wine I've drank before.
The wine is made from the only four rows on the planet that grow the 150-year-old Hondurrabi Beltza vines. The wine is fairly tannic (read: a bit acidic) and has a smoky, chorizo flavor with hints of crushed blackberry and green pepper. It's full-bodied but goes down smooth and has a refreshing finish. The bartender helped me pair it with one of the menu's dozen artisan cheeses. Into my mouth I popped slices of the Basque Country's nutty, sharp Petite Ardi Gasna cheese made from aged raw sheep's milk. I followed it with a swish of wine and for a moment I could discern how the flavors of one complemented the other.
Would I want to become a regular? Shelves stocked with bottles, a dark wood bar, candle-lit tables, vivid paintings and a vastly descriptive wine menu draw in Lincoln Park locals of all ages and wine aficionados who make Webster's a destination. The menu features small plates and regional specialty dishes, like tempura-crusted rack of lamb and mushroom risotto.
Webster's ambience and food delight, but I go for the wine and the free wine guidance. With wine classes and tastings offered monthly, there's a good chance I'll figure out what legs on wine means after all.
Dana Kavan scours the city for drink deals so good you'll offer to buy a round and creative libations that outshine your average on-the-rocks concoctions. Want to give Dana tips on where to rack up a bar tab? Share your finds before her next night out.