Value wine brings bliss to eclectic Elate

Visitors to Chicago have an impressive array of hotels from which to choose. There are sprawling and/or towering labyrinths for conventions, and the most luxuriant establishments that fawn on celebutantes toting their filet-fed lapdogs. And of course, there are a number of old classics by the lake and small charmers that stay under the radar.

The Hotel Felix and its companion restaurant, Elate, are at the forefront of the boutique-chic hotel/restaurant movement. Elate offers its contented state of food at all three meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The entire facility has received Silver LEED certification, featuring organic materials and eco-friendly practices. It even touts its cutting-edge plumbing.

General Manager Chris Pappas has diligently assembled Elate’s eclectic wine list to reflect not only the best of modern winemaking, but also the legacy of this ancient art – paired with a dining experience that’s a nimble fusion of past and present.

Value Wine Chicago had a chance to speak with Mr. Pappas regarding Elate’s approach to local diners and out-of-towners alike – and what their tastes are in the value sector of the wine industry:

(Note: Tor read this Q&A in its entirety, go to Examiner.com: Ask the Sommelier: Q&A with Chris Pappas of Elate.)

Value Wine Chicago: Elate is part of the Hotel Felix, which adheres to many green initiatives. How has that influenced your selection of wines for Elate’s list?

Chris Pappas: Well, the state of the economy has shown that very few people are looking for first-growth Bordeaux. And, I’ve always tried to design a wine list that matches up with the menu. Our menu here at Elate emphasizes smaller plates – almost a tapas style, with a lower price point. So, the menu doesn’t justify having big, expensive wines on the list.

VWC: What two wines would you recommend for those on a budget – both a white and a red?

CP: For whites, I really like the A Coroa Godello and Rias Baixas Albarino from Spain. They are great with mussels – and all shellfish as well. When it comes to some of the richer things on our menu, such as short ribs, I really like Grenache. The Puech-Haut Pic St. Loup is just great – with its spice, cherry notes and a bit of leather. Grenache wines (or wines using the grape in the blend) are delicious with braised meat.

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About Thomas Caestecker

I have had the privilege to witness the wine industry through both the corporate and media lenses for several years. My conclusion: The value sector has the potential for real growth in the industry. Luxury wines are battered by the economy; inexpensive bulk wine is simply cheap. This blog's mission is to reveal competitively priced, under-the-radar wines.
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