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Bottles Up!

Half-price bottles of wine make Monday a little less dry.
Monday May 29, 2006.     By Erin Brereton
Centerstage Chicago Nightlife City Guide Arts

Love that half-price wine!
When it comes to reduced-price liquor, I'm always on the lookout. From $1 beer to two-for-one martinis, this city is full of drink discounts of varying quality, and I've partaken in quite a few of them. Some are decent. Some are a bit watered down. And sometimes, nothing but a quality drink will do.

With that in mind, I've been searching for places with good wine—and lots of it. And because I am a dedicated columnist (and quite possibly, a borderline problem drinker), I found two.

The key to reduced wine is to go out on an off night—many restaurants offer discounts on Monday, typically one of the slowest days of the week for the food industry. But, as luck would have it, I'm actually quite hungry every night, not just on the weekends, so with visions of cocktails dancing in my head, my friend Stef and I headed out to Emilio's Tapas Sol y Nieve downtown location, 215 E. Ohio, the week before last.

Ready to enjoy some of Emilio's delicious tapas (if I could figure out how to replace what currently courses through my bloodstream with its goat cheese and marinara dish, I would), we quickly solved our typical "red or white?" debate: She loves red; I prefer white; so we settled on a rosé. Part of Emilio's appeal is that the staff is so nice—and true to form, our waiter brought over a wine sample so we could make sure we wanted to go for the entire bottle.

And we did! Bottles of wine—all bottles—are half-price on Monday at Emilio's, and though it was the perfect complement to the Spanish omelet and other goodies we ordered, it also came with a something a little extra: The knowledge that the good stuff is always wiser.

It's true—drinking better quality stuff makes you feel better. For proof of this, I offer the time in college I overindulged in that box of "Chillable Red" wine. One might think the fact it didn't have a name—just a color—would have tipped me off. Or the fact that it was actually in a foil container. But it wasn't until the next day, when I was looking at some serious bile, that I thought to myself hmmm, $7 for the equivalent of more than 8 bottles of wine really isn't a such a good deal after all.

But we did order multiple bottles on my next cheap winie outing: my friend Mary's birthday. She's my most wine-knowledgeable friend, the kind who sends me home with some thoughts about social theory, recommendations on a couple of new books to read and also a pleasant buzz.

Therefore it made perfect sense we celebrate her big day at a fantastic French restaurant that had—you guessed it—half price wine on Monday nights, which is when we went to La Sardine, 111 N. Sardine. The good news is , La Sardine has nothing to do with little fish. The even better news? That wine deal.

Mary scanned the menu and ordered up a red and a white (with prices like these and four thirsty ladies at the table, why not?!?). We downed both easily as we noshed on dishes like wild mushroom ragout. The majority of my French linguistic knowledge comes from one viewing of "Les Miserable," which left me trying to frantically to decode the menu before the next course came (mostly failing).

But even sans bilingual talent, I had a great time, matching the red to the part of my meal it was supposed to be best with and the white to everything else. And I learned what ragout was. Sure, I was a little headachy the next day—drinking a lot can do that—but exhausted? Beat? Dreaming I'd eaten a salt lick? None of that happened.

Really, the bargain is two fold when you think about it. Wine? Half-price. Wine hangovers? Free.

Want to try some way-discounted wine? Visit La Sardine or Emilio's.

Erin Brereton, our resident urban cowgirl in search of life-on-the-cheap.
Erin Brereton is our resident urban cowgirl on a bi-weekly search for life on the cheap. If you know of the mythic happy hour that she missed, do clue her in.


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