Independent Spirits Inc.

6 of the best shops in Chicago for wine and all that goes with it

By Anthony Todd

There’s so much good wine out there, choosing a single bottle (or a few) can be completely overwhelming— paralyzing even. It’s enough to leave you tired, over it, and stuck with a random bottle you picked up at the supermarket. Don’t let this happen. Instead, head to one of Chicago’s best wine shops, and find yourself guided straight to the best. Many of these spots offer more than just wine, too, including gourmet food, amazing tasting notes, free pours, and full-scale bar or restaurant to celebrate your shopping success.

Pastoral
Pastoral is one of the only shops in town that has the full package—they’ve got amazing wine (obviously) but also deli sandwiches, two full service restaurants, cheese, charcuterie, gourmet food, and picnics. In other words, everything you need for the good life. Head to the Andersonville location for a giant, beautiful wine bar called Appellation, while Bar Pastoral in Lakeview offers a far more intimate experience.
Neighborhood: Multiple Locations

Vin Chicago
This unassuming shop off of Elston Avenue doesn’t look like much from the outside—in fact, driving past the concrete block building, you might not even realize it’s a wine store. But it’s worth venturing inside for some of the best selections (and astonishingly, the best prices) in town. Vin regularly beats even behemoth Binny’s on prices—especially for liquor. The best thing about this place is that, in addition to all the typical wine scores and reviews, they give every wine their own score, so you can have an independent assessment of what’s good. And if you sign up for their email list, they’ll send you the notes on every bottle you buy. Plus, there’s a can’t-miss-it wine tasting every Saturday.
Neighborhood: Lincoln Park MAP

Independent Spirits Inc.
Let’s say you’ve already stocked up on your big name brands for a while and you’re looking for something more niche. Head to Independent Spirits Inc. and you’ll find one of the most extensive selections in town of, well, independent spirits. They define this as small craft brands, including a lot of bottles from regions you might not be familiar with. Plus, their tasting notes are so good, a professor at DePaul literally uses them as examples in a creative writing class.
Neighborhood: Edgewater MAP

Off Premise
One of the newer spots on this list, Off Premise is run by Adam Kamin, the beverage director at The Delta. It’s a small neighborhood wine shop, with a unique focus: Off Premise offers a wide variety of natural and biodynamic wines—what they refer to as “real wine.” It’s tightly curated, not particularly pricy, and cozy as heck, plus they have a great whiskey selection and a variety of gourmet treats.
Neighborhood: Lincoln Park MAP


Perman Wine Selections
Perman Wine Selections, run by expert wine buyer Craig Perman, is at the very top of the list for every true wine connoisseur in Chicago. While their West Loop location closed in 2018, they’ve still got their shop on Division Street, and it’s going pretty darn strong. Perman is literally the polar opposite of Binny’s—each wine is displayed lovingly, like a designer handbag, and the staff knows basically everything about every wine in the place. Don’t pop into Perman for a quick bottle after work; plan to stay a while and learn something.
Neighborhood: Near North MAP

Binny’s Beverage Depot
Okay, so it’s the obvious choice—the largest liquor and wine empire in town. But the breadth of their collection (and the expertise of their buyers) can’t be ignored, even if their atmosphere is a little bit more warehouse than boutique. Depending on the location (they’re all over the city), they’re running tastings almost every day, with full-scale classes and seminars taking place at their South Loop outpost. They don’t have any eat-in options, but they do have decent selections of cheese, snacks, gourmet foods and—if it’s your thing—cigars.
Neighborhood: Multiple Locations

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