5 Wine Recommendations for Your Holiday Dinner

Holiday wine pairings

Rachel Speckan, our amazing beverage director & wine educator, compiled a list of five wine suggestions sure to be a hit at your dinner table this holiday season! Read on…

Wine is key to assuredly winning your holiday dinner. The ingredients are varied, the guests are a compilation of personalities, and the wild cards are ample. Balance this precarious situation with a striking assortment of wine!

The menu is forgiving and wine friendly, so choose wines to highlight the food and the company, rather than commanding attention on the table. I recommend throwing a mashed up array of wines on the table and encouraging guests to sip and share tastes of many different bottles without having to commit to just one wine.

Utilize a trusty wine shop to make of the moment recommendations, or stick to your favorites, play it safe or be adventurous. Festive bottles need not be expensive bottles!

For the best pairing, utilize wines without a large dose of oak or overly aggressive tannin, instead opting for wines with a touch of residual sweetness or high acidity to increase your versatility factor. Sparkling wine is nearly always an amazing option for the holiday table! Not only are the bubbles spirited, but the high acid and prickly mouthfeel are a lovely pairing with nearly any dish. An off-dry Riesling is also an excellent choice, as the slight sweetness juxtaposed next to the high acidity create a mouthwatering balanced that yearns for food. Gamay is a ringer, with similar characteristics to Pinot Noir, but not so serious a hit to the wallet, and an aptitude for pairing. For those that prefer more hefty wine options, snagging a lighter bodied (lower alcohol) Zinfandel can be a wonderful, very American food and wine pairing experience. And, to wrap up the meal and the wine pairing, pop open a dessert wine with bright fruit, honeycomb and an unctuous texture, or fortified wine with notes of dried fruit, nuttiness, and chocolate. For certain, you will be the researched, poised, and elegant host(ess). Cheers!

1. NV Moncuit Champagne Blanc de Blanc, Champagne, France – Chardonnay
2. 2012 Zind Humbrecht Rangen de Thann Clos St. Urbain Grand Cru, Alsace, France – Riesling
3. 2010 Jean Foillard Cote du Py, Morgon, Beaujolais, France – Gamay
4. 2012 Bedrock Heritage, Evangelho Vineyard, Sonoma, California – Zinfandel
5. 2013 Vignalta Fior d’Arancio, Veneto, Italy – Orange Muscat

City Winery represented at Cahors Malbec Days

Hannah, one of our wine captains, had the opportunity to represent City Winery on a week-long trip to Cahors, France for ‘Cahors Malbec Days’!  Read all about her incredible trip below!

My name is Hannah Grossman. I have been at City Winery since its opening, and works as a wine captain, server, and event lead. On behalf of the European Union, the UIVC (Union Interprofessionnelle du Vin de Cahors), and a representative of the City Winery wine captain team, I recently spent a week in Cahors, France for “Cahors Malbec Days.”

Cahors is in the Southwest part of France, just north of the Languedoc. This is home of the Malbec grape. Many other countries and regions have made a (more famous) name for Malbec, helping it become quite the trend in the wine world. Some of these places include Argentina, Bordeaux, the Loire Valley, Chile, Australia, South Africa, and the United States, and more. While the Malbec grape is quite adaptable, its roots lie here in Cahors.

Cahors is about 21,000 hectares in total, and only 4,000 hectares is being used for vinification purposes, 90% of which is Malbec. It is red wine production only here, apart from some winemaking experimentation with other grapes. But the the AOC, France’s wine law, at least 70% of a wine must be Malbec and only Merlot and Tannat are permitted within a blend. Merlot will soften the wine and Tannat will mature the blends to be palatable at a younger age.

So as you can imagine, I drank red wine for 5 days straight. They call Malbec the “black grape,” so I dubbed our group the “black teeth.”

With rich soils ranging from alluvial and gravel to clay and limestone, Malbec from Cahors has a rustic, terrior-driven quality. The region is full of floral notes itself with so many kinds of flowers from honeysuckle to lavender to roses. A Cahors Malbec profile is typical of black currants, black cherry, violets, licorice, with remnants of truffles, mint and oak. They are full-bodied with firm fruity tannins and high acidity.

Getting the opportunity to go on an enrichment trip gives you something that the books and the bottles alone can’t give you. I was fully immersed within the region, where I heard firsthand from the winemakers what it takes for success, what soils and climates they’re working with, the equipment and style in which they each individually produce what has given Cahors its name. There is no better way to learn than to go to the site itself. It’s a beautiful thing to be a part of one place’s culture, getting to feel as one with the wine’s source of identity.

We were given a structured itinerary for every day. I would wake up early and have a traditional countryside breakfast of fresh breads, a soft-boiled egg, fresh orange juice, and good strong coffee. From there we were off to a vineyard that would host a seminar to begin the morning. History and terrior were major foci throughout the trip. After a daily tasting, we chose two vineyards to see and learn about each day. Before embarking throughout Cahors’ countryside, we had a lunch typically featuring duck in some preparation from foie gras to confit to terrine. This region is especially known for their game products, truffes, and mustards, and I can back them up on that one! To get from vineyard to vineyard, the program sponsored vintage cars from about the 1930-1960s to drive us around! After a long afternoon outside, we would get ready for a dinner, again, hosted by a chateau or vineyard. We truly got the 360 degree Cahors experience.


View of CahorsHannah, our wine captain, in Cahors!

Vineyard in CahorsWine glass in Cahors

Top Five Reasons to have your next event at City Winery Napa



1)   LOCATION.  Whether you are looking to book your next corporate meeting or your dream wedding there is no place on earth more legendary as a destination than the Napa Valley.  Located on Main Street in the heart of Napa, City Winery brings all the best of Wine Country under one roof.


2)   WINE.  Well it is what this region was named for!  City Winery has over 30 wines from some of the biggest names in the business (Mondavi, Barrett, Buehler, Davies, and more) Whether toasting Grandma’s 90th or that you made it through another corporate retreat we have the right stuff for you to put in your glass.


3)   FOOD.  Our culinary team led by Chef Joseph Panarello will create the perfect menu for your occasion.  Using only the freshest ingredients from California’s rich bounty of fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, poultry, and fish.  From small bites to five course meals we will create a custom menu that suites your occasion. 


4)   TECHNOLOGY.  State of the Art Full Concert Meyer Sound System, Multiple Screens, and Flat Screen Playback options, multiple theatrical lighting and gobo options, and an on site tech to make sure everything goes smoothly. 


5)   HISTORY.   Be a part of it.  City Winery Napa is housed in the historic Napa Valley Opera House, which opened in 1880.  The Napa Valley Opera House was originally a popular site for shows, town meetings and balls. Jack London read from its stage, John Philip Sousa led his brass band there and John L. Lewis fought an exhibition match.  In more recent eras Graham Nash, Leon Russell, Lewis Black, Jeff Bridges have graced our historic stage. 

NOTES for Education at this Week’s Vintner Vinyl


City Winery is partnering with NOTES for Education.  NOTES was formed to support arts education for today’s youth.  Soon City Winery Napa will be featuring NOTES Zinfandel in our Tap Bar.  All proceeds help children and music in schools.  Read more about it online at http://notesforeducation.org.   Notes for Education will also be behind the bar and the turntables this Monday for Vintner Vinyl starting at 6 PM so drop by and try some Zin – and help us support arts in schools!

Shure: Nashville’s New City Winery Gets Outfitted With an Abundance of Shure Gear

Shure Microphones


With locations in New York City, Chicago, and Napa, City Winery, the brainchild of Michael Dorf, founder of the iconic Knitting Factory, came to Nashville with one goal—to create a space that embodies the city’s shared passions for wine and music. A unique facility, City Winery combines a fully-functioning winery with intimate concerts, food and wine classes, private events, and fine dining. With upcoming performances from JT Hodges and Rhett Miller, the City Winery team turned to Shure to outfit the new location with audio equipment for private parties, a small restaurant stage, and a larger 570-person music venue.

City Winery partnered with Tour Supply, a company well-known in the live touring industry and audio partner for the existing City Winery locations, to integrate high-quality, intuitive gear. The challenge was to identify cost-effective, yet reliable products to serve a variety of different functions. Also, while the City Winery music venue is supported by a house production manager, the restaurant, winery, and private rooms required frequency agile systems that could be operated seamlessly by restaurant staff who have very little technical audio experience.

To address the many needs of City Winery, Tour Supply selected four channels of ULX-S® Wireless Systems and PSM® 900 Personal Monitoring Systems for the music venue. The team installed three channels of Shure’s entry-level BLX Wireless Systems for the restaurant and winery areas, MX412 Gooseneck Microphones to support corporate presentations and a dash of Shure wired and wireless microphones, including Beta 58, Beta 91A, Beta 98A, SM58®, and SM57.

“City Winery has been an amazing project for our team. The combination of wine, music, and culinary arts is something that appeals to the senses, but when under one roof, it makes for a challenging audio installation,” said Lance Wascom, Tour Supply CEO. “We’ve had close to a 20-year relationship with Shure. Using Shure equipment was a no-brainer for us, as it was for Mr. Dorf and his team. Not only is the sound quality superior, but the gear comes with great support from the Shure customer service team and our local reps over at HWPco Inc.”

A month into operations, the ULX-S Wireless System has proven effective in delivering premium sound quality for music acts. Additionally, the wireless is reliable and in a compact, seek form factor, fitting for the venue layout. In regard to PSM 900, Wascom commented “it’s the best dollar for dollar investment. We trust PSM for our touring artists and the PSM 900 delivers superb audio quality for the professional musicians performing at City Winery.”

In the restaurant and winery, the BLX Wireless System—with professional quality sound, simple setup, and an intuitive interface—has been easy for employees to use. The one-touch QuickScan frequency selection, that quickly locates the best open frequency in case of interference, means that employees don’t have to be bothered with the complexities of manual scanning. Additionally, the quality construction ensures it will hold up in the high-traffic environment.

To learn more about Nashville’s first fully-operational winery and the upcoming events at City Winery, please visit www.citywinery.com/nashville. To learn more about Tour Supply, visit www.toursupply.com.

For the full article, click here.

City Winery is pleased to announce our newest Tap Partner – Godspeed Vineyards!


Godspeed is an artisan grower in the Mount Veeder Appellation of Napa Valley situated at an altitude of 1500 ft. The vineyard is the project of the the Larry Stricker family. Larry is an acclaimed architect who has created world class resort hotels, including the Phoenician in Scottsdale, Arizona; the Marriott Desert Springs Resort and a series of Hawaiian properties including the Halekulani, Kahala Resort, Kapalua Bay Hotel and the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel.  We are proud to have 2010 Godspeed Cabernet Sauvignon on our unique Tap System.  Stop by and try some!

Top 3 Reasons to Host Your Next Private Event at City Winery

We obviously love wine, music, and food here at City Winery Chicago, but we also pride ourselves on our large venue and numerous private event options that we offer! Here are our top 3 reasons why City Winery is a unique and wonderful place to host your private event. 

1. We accommodate a variety of occasions and party sizes.

From weddings, to board meetings, to birthday parties, to fundraisers, you name it- we can accommodate you! Summer weekends are always a popular time for weddings, and our patio and concert venue have definitely been put to good use! In fact, we welcomed over 30 newlyweds in 2014 alone! City Winery parties range anywhere from 10-1,000 people.

I_1608credit Gerber + Scarpelli Weddings I_1651credit Gerber + Scarpelli Weddings

 2. We have flexible rooms within our 35,000 sq. ft. space

The variety of spaces in our 35,000 square foot establishment allow us to work with our clients to understand their desires and needs, and find a perfect fit for nearly any occasion. Amongst our beautiful outdoor patio, restaurant, the landing overlooking the restaurant, the 300-person seated concert venue, our upper level loft-style mezzanine, or our barrel room, where wine is actually aging in oak barrels, there is an aesthetically appealing space to entertain virtually any gathering! Check out our full gallery here!

CW_barrel_room CW_patioCW_mezzanine CW_concert_space

3. We bring the essence of Wine Country to the West Loop

The unique thing about hosting an event at City Winery is that our clients may access our fully functioning urban winery- right here in the restaurant! We provide the essence of Napa Valley, right in the heart of the trendy West Loop! Since we make our own wine, we’re able to work with clients to make custom-labeled bottled wine and host tasting parties! We’re happy and willing to collaborate with any event and offer our unique resources to fit our clients’ needs!

City Winery Chicago Winery_Maggie Wangler © Document the Day

 If we have piqued your interest, we invite you to stop in for a complimentary walk-through of our facility. Please fill out our Private Events Inquiry Form or email Todd@CityWinery.com. In the mean time, we encourage you to experience our space –  join us for a concert in our 300 seat intimate venue or come in for a bite to eat – we’re open for lunch and dinner!  Make a reservation here.