Table Wine | Varyer
A lush tablescape with a glass of red wine.

Table Wine

A crowd-sourced list of favorite or unique picks for table wine from our favorite wine appreciators in Chicago, with each contributor sharing two selections; favorite varietals or bottlings to always have around, and highly quaffable, non-pretentious bangers

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Contributor: Pét Nat Posse

A hand holds a bottle of wine.

Matic Wines ‘Mea’ (Orange)

An amphora-aged, skin contact Riesling stunner from Štajerska, Slovenia. This has consistently been a cracker with each vintage we've enjoyed and with a sub $30 shelf price, it's an insane bang for the buck. The open draws you in with a fragrant and floral nose, zippy bubbles throughout keep you on your toes, and your palate’s virtual mind is blown with seemingly endless waves of tangerine, green apple, and a dry but creamy citrus curd pie finish. It’s currently available at Rose Mary in Fulton Market and at a few shops across the city.

A bottle of pink-red wine with a label reading "Pink Gold."

Weingut Gold ‘Pink Gold’

A rosé of one week macerated Trollinger grapes from 45 year old vines in Swabia, Germany. A rocket ripping through red fruit stratospheres. We dig heavy on this punchy ruby red grapefruit, cherry gummy, strawberry melange with a mineral-dry finish as pleasant as a magic hour breeze floating through a field of wild roses. A great bottle to beat the hell out of the gray days of the Chicago winter or celebrate under the warmth of the summer sun. Last time we struck Gold, our friends at All Together Now had it on their tower of power.

Contributor: Los Naturales

Edelzwicker by Bruno Schueller

The Edelzwicker is a low key banger hailing from Alsace. Comes in liter format, and honestly we wish there was more in the bottle because once you open it, it's gonna finish just as fast. Great acidity, beautiful color, the nose and aromas on this are incredible. Schueller's wines are all impressive, but the liter format and low $20's steal of a price is what makes this one such a great "table wine."

Shout out Percy Selections for importing these gems. Josh, if you're reading this we need some ASAP!

A minimal bottle of wine with a label that reads "Edelzwicker."

Barry by Domaine Ozil


On the red end of things, we really like Barry by Domaine Ozil (run by two brothers in Ardèche). Barry is a mix of Grenache Noir & Syrah - light and easy to drink, juicy but still holds some structure of its own. This was one of our personal favorites to transition from late summer into early fall, perfect very slightly chilled or at room temp. The low $20's price point makes this wine all that more enjoyable, and you won't second guess buying multiple at once.

A bottle of wine with a label that reads "Barry."

Contributor: Kyla Peal, Slik Wines

A bottle of wine with a label in cursive script.

Hudelot Passetoutgrain


First up is the Hudelot-Baillet Bourgogne Passetoutgrains 2019. For Burgundy and Beaujolais lovers, Passetoutgrains will usually be a blend of both regions' most widely planted grapes, Gamay and Pinot Noir. They're both thin-skinned varietals - Gamay showing more fruit characteristics while Pinots from this region have more earth-driven qualities while also maintaining fruit notes. What I think is neat about these wines is that all fruit is fermented together and starts with carbonic maceration— a fermentation method seen a lot in Beaujolais where carbon dioxide is released into the fermentation vessel creating an anaerobic environment— and finishes with a classic fermentation style.

This method produces a lighter-colored wine with less tannins and more ripe fruit on the palate - she's juicy y'all! It's the best of both regions, honestly, and is extremely food-friendly. Because of the low acid and tannin, it's also perfectly fine on its own and lightly chilled, won't break the bank, and makes for a great nightcap. Wines of Burgundy can get a bit pricey, but Passetoutgrain styles are usually more approachable and affordable for both red and white wine lovers.

A bottle of wine with an etching-like label.

Boxler Riesling

Next, is an Albert Boxler Alsace Riesling 'Reserve' 2018. I'm a huge fan of Rieslings in general but lately I've been on an Alsace kick. Albert Boxler is a fantastic and well known producer from this region located in Northeastern France. The region is also known for producing Pinot Blancs, Pinot Noir and Gewurztraminer, but they're known for producing some of the best dry Rieslings in the world.

The biggest difference between a Riesling from Alsace and one from the Mosel River in Germany will be the climate— it's a bit warmer in Alsace so grapes ripen at a faster rate. This results in an overall more floral and fuller-bodied wine. You're still likely to get a great amount of acidity and minerality along with some of the same tasting notes like green apple and honey, but Alsace has just been doing it for me. Riesling, because of it's amazing acidity, is also a great food wine.

In Chicago, I've been keeping myself warm with my favorite Szechuan dishes (white fish with green peppercorn sauce and lots of spicy noodles) and I can't think of anything better to tame the heat with than a richer style Riesling. This region makes a good amount of dry wines which I recommend starting with, especially if you've been partial to Riesling in the past, but if you're a fan of sweeter wines, don't sleep on those from this region either!! * All fruit is organically farmed and hand-harvested.

Contributor: Vic + David, Bummer Wines

A bottle of wine with a black and yellow label.

Es d'Aqui, M&M Rouge

Varieties: Muscat, Mouvedre

(Vic's pick) this is one of my favorite wines (I've bought no less than half a case for myself in the last year) from my favorite region (Roussillon, France) super approachable but still refined. It's a wine that both my friends who are new to natural wine or not much of wine drinkers as well as wine snob have all loved. Floral on the nose and way earthy - this guy will run you $28 to $30 bucks and it will be on our site soon. We've actually been waiting for a shipment of these for a few months now (supply chain issues yada yada) but will hopefully arrive next month. You can also find it at local shops Red & White and Diversey from time to time.

A bottle of light wine with a label that reads "Bichi."

Bichi Wines Pet Mex

Varietal: UNKNOWN?!

(David's pick) Bichi is my favorite producer because everything they make has something unexpected in taste, and yet they simply never miss. Their Pet Mex is made from a 69 year old vineyard comprised of a "mysterious grape variety that remains unidentified" in Baja.

You can taste all your favorite summer fruits and veggies in here - watermelon, strawberry, cucumber. It's got a nice mellow fizz, soft mouth feel, tastes like a healthy kombucha-y juice; not just refreshing but literally hydrating.

For research purposes, I drank this wine at 9 am once and I felt like I was drinking any other morning juice, except I was having way more fun. Highly quaffable, impossible not to take a sip and smile immediately after. I try to have a bottle of this on hand as often as possible but it's kind of hard to track down, especially in Chicago, I imagine because everyone else is trying to do the same (and for good reason). Your best bet would be All Together Now or Easy Does It.


Contributor: Zack Eastman, Easy Does It

A bottle of wine with a white and orange label.

Gamay

Table Wine to me means affordability, pair-ability, can be drunk all on its own, and keeps in the fridge after it's been open. Well-made wine, even table wine, is limited. So instead of picking out 2 wines that your local shop may or may not have, subtle cue to shop small, here are two of my favorite varietals you’ll find at my table consistently. When you're looking for wine, aside from asking staff for pointers, a good guide is flipping the bottle around and looking at the back label to find out who imports the wine. You'll start to find styles you dig and can build from there.

This grape is grown all over the world, but most notably in Beaujolais, France. Gamay can be bright, fruity, earthy, natty, classic, crunchy, it all depends on where it’s from and who’s making it. That rule applies to all wine. If you flip the bottle around and see Kermit Lynch, Louis-Dressner, Selection Massale, Rosenthal, Jenny & François (to name a few) you’re in good hands. Look out for Jean Foillard or his son Alex, Herve Villemade, or those cool looking La Boutanche liter bottles around town.

A bottle of light wine with a cursive-text label.

Riesling

I know, I know, you don't like Riesling. Here's the thing though, you probably do. We've all had shitty Riesling experiences. It was too sweet and out of balance, it smelled like gas (not the good kind), your annoying neighbor brought it to that dinner party with a pinky up. We’re not talking about those Rieslings. Think about Riesling as a shaken cocktail, like a daiquiri, sugar is balanced by acid. Look for the word “trocken” aka dry. There’s a bit more sugar here than your standard dry wine, but racy acidity balances things out. A good bottle of riesling can last a week in the fridge no problem and it pairs with a long list of cuisine including spicier food. Look out for Vom Boden on the back label. Beurer, JB Becker, and Stein are a few of my go-tos from them.

Contributor: Matty Colston, Colston Biblio

A bottle of wine with a blue unicorn on the label.

Valpolicella

When asked about my 'favorite' wines (a word I try to stay away from), Valpolicella is probably the one that I forget about the most, and I'm not sure why. But the moment I pour myself a large glass from a producer like Monte Dall'Ora or Prà, I'm immediately rushed back to the simple, satisfying pleasure of it. I recently was reminded of Valpolicella and it's all I want to drink for the foreseeable future (exaggerated?.. perhaps not).

Wine has been made here since the times of ancient Greeks. Valpolicella is commonly composed of a mixture of regional grapes within the Veneto, just north of Verona, Italy. Some of them include: Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, Molinara, and Oseleta.

A bottle of Monte Dall'Ora 'Saseti' or Prà Morandina should only run you just a touch over $20 bucks at your favorite independent wine shop.

A light-skinned man hugs a large barrel alongside a bottle of wine.

Istrian Malvazija

A specific variety of Malvasia that is called 'Malvazija Istarska' is native to the Croatian peninsula of Istria sitting just below Slovenia, directly on the northern point of the Adriatic Sea. A distinctive place worth traveling to for its stunning coastal settings, gastronomy (notably the olive oil), hospitality, and overall affordability.

This indigenous variety commonly sees some, usually short, skin maceration, but for some reason, the wines never take on the personality of orange wine. It's notably aromatic but less so than Muscat, also found in the region. The wines are extremely drinkable and have their own personalities from producer to producer. Kozlovic is a benchmark but if you can find Clai's 'Baracija' or Piquentum, they will really grab your attention and won't let go.

Contributor: Jeremy Patenaude, All Together Now

A bottle of wine with a label that reads "Montenidoli."

Montenidoli Tradizionale Vernaccia di San Gimignano (2020)

Elisabetta Fagiuoli is such a wonderful person, everyone who meets her has a story to tell of her magical attitude towards life, which I think translates to the wines. This is a Tuscan white wine made from Vernaccia. It is complex, round, a little nutty. Whenever I am preparing salmon I reach for this bottle. $27 on the shelf at All Together Now.

A bottle of wine with a French label.

Chanrion Cote de Brouilly (2019)

Nicole Chanrion works her land by herself and has since 1988. This Cru Beaujolais is an extremely reliable addition to most dinner tables. Tons of red fruits, a little spice, really pure beaujolais that is impossible to beat for the price. $26 at All Together Now.

C'est un bon vin C'est un bon vin