Mar 30, 2015

The World of Untappd

As you know, we really enjoy beer around here.  We especially like trying new beers.  BUT how are you supposed to do keep track of all these beers?  And how do you know if you've already tried a beer and whether or not you actually liked it?

Enter UNTAPPD.  This app (for iPhone and Android) is a social beer tracker.  I've been using it for a couple of years and have found it a fun way to keep track of beers you like (or a way to remember which beers to steer clear from in the future!) and a way to find out about new and trending beers.


Here's how it works:
1. Create a profile (you can also use Facebook or Twitter, but I don't like linking all those things so I created a separate Untappd profile).
2. Start checking in beers!  When you check in a beer you can search by the beer's name or the brewery.  When you find the beer you're looking for you can rate it on a scale of 5 stars (and it allows 0.5 point ratings), make comments, check in the location of where you're drinking the beer and even take a picture to save with your check in.
3. Earn badges.  You can earn badges based on how many of a particular kind of beer you drink, drinking a number of a beers in a certain amount of time or at a certain location on a certain day, etc.  I currently have 140 beers.  My favorite badges are the ones that tell you how many different kinds of a certain beer you've had and what "level" you're at.  For these badges you go up a level after every 5 beers.  For example, I am on level 48 of the "Land of the Free" badge (for drinking 240 different beers made in the USA).
4. Follow your friends and fellow beer connoisseurs.  This is where the social component comes in.  You can "friend" people on Untappd and then their check ins will show up in your feed.  I like this feature because I can see what my friends are drinking and when they are drinking beer WITHOUT ME (just kidding...).  If you find a random person that has similar tastes to you, by following them you may discover beers you haven't heard of yet and get ideas on what to try next.
The check-in page
There are other features on Untappd that can show you what beers are popular near you, or even where to find a particular kind of beer.  I don't use these as much, but they would certainly come in handy when you are looking for a rare beer or have a craving for something really specific.

Join us on Untappd!  My user name is alyssajank and Caitlin's is Baitlo.

My profile...that number of beers may shock you or make you laugh
Do any of you use Untappd, or something similar to keep track of which beers you've tried?
 

Mar 27, 2015

DryHop Brewers

Mondays can be rough: you're back at work after too short of a weekend, so they always seems extra long and terrible.  One way to make these days better is to have something to look forward to for after work.  DryHop in Lakeview offers the "Barman's Banquet": a cheeseburger, pint of beer, and shot of bourbon for $15.  The Barman's Banquet is my new favorite thing and luckily I live only blocks from DryHop.

First of all, DryHop brews their own beer and it is DELICIOUS.  Every time I've been there they've had something new on the menu, but sadly they only serve their beer on site.  You CAN get it to go in growlers or giant 32 oz cans, but the best way to drink it is to drink it while you're sitting down to a delicious meal.  All of the beers I've had from DryHop have been pretty hoppy and they like experimenting with new flavors.  On this particular visit I had Fearless Vampire Killer, a Belgian IPA with lemon and COCONUT (?) flavors.  I think it would be a great spring beer (which we may experience some time in April, if we're lucky).  

Fearless Vampire Killer
I also tried Too Many Puppies (the cutest beer name I've ever heard), a nitro lactose IPA.  I had previously thought that only stouts and porters could be nitro, but apparently those are just more common because they usually work better with nitro as opposed to other kinds of beers.  But the DryHop nitro IPA was VERY creamy and had great mouthfeel (so much fun to say) and I'm definitely going to be on the lookout for other nitro IPAs.
look at that creamy head!

The second type of liquid included in the Barman's Banquet is the bourbon.  I'm not much of a bourbon/whiskey drinker (unlike Caitlin), but I can appreciate it in small doses, which made a shot the right size for me.  On this particular Monday night they served Buffalo Trace shots.  I drank it in 2 large sips but my boyfriend shot it like a man.

Lastly, the CHEESEBURGER.  All of the food I've had from DryHop has been great but I think the burger may the best thing on the menu.  It was named to Thrillist's Best Burgers of 2013 IN THE COUNTRY, so you know it has to be good.  You can add an egg or bacon to it, which I'm sure would make it even better, but it doesn't even need that extra flavor.
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I KNOW I will be hitting up the Barman's Banquet again soon, but DryHop is enjoyable any day of the week.  If you like craft beer and good food, you'll love it.

Mar 25, 2015

The Rocking Horse

After the distillery tour on Friday, Alyssa and I were hungry and knew we had to find food before one of us (me) had a meltdown. Thankfully, Chicago Distilling Company is located in an area of Logan Square with a lot of food options. We decided to take a short walk and eat at The Rocking Horse, where we did not have to wait at all for a table - on a Friday night! I had been here before, but since it's been a few years only had vague recollections that it was good. 
Since I don't drink liquor that often, the first thing that we needed was beer to cleanse our palates. We both started with the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Hoppy Lager - It was my first time trying it and it was perfect for my hoppy preferences and getting rid of the white whiskey taste. Alyssa also had the Summit Saga IPA, which I've also had - we both approve!

While the beer was good, I think the main highlight for us was the food. We started with the pretzel, which was a hit except for the extremely spicy mustard that came with it. Every time we took a bite, our sinuses felt like they were on fire!

I also had the turkey bacon sandwich, which was everything I wanted after the distillery tour. I don't know if it was an off night, but the tater tots that I chose as a side were SUPER salty. So much so, that I think I suffered from a salt hangover the next day. Alyssa had the pressed Italian sandwich, which she raved about and also the white truffle fries (I would go back just to eat these).


If you're ever in the neighborhood or looking for somewhere to eat after a trip to the Chicago Distilling Company, we would recommend Rocking Horse. 

Do you have any other recommendations for restaurants/bars we should try in Logan Square?

Mar 23, 2015

Chicago Distilling Co.

On Friday, Alyssa and I went on a tour of Chicago Distilling Company in Logan Square. They currently distill white whiskey, gin and vodka and have tours every Thursday through Sunday. Alyssa got us a deal on Gilt City so our tour was $19 for two people and we got a cocktail kit. Normally tours are $10 - and you get a tasting of each of their products.

We got there a little early to try out the cocktails. I had the Finn Tini, their gin martini - and it was not my favorite. I'm not the biggest gin fan, but I thought I would try something new. I'm sure it would be a hit, if you like martinis! Alyssa had the Logan Mule, which she enjoyed.

Finn Tini - look at that organge peel!

The distillery itself is actually fairly small, but it seems like they are a growing operation and may expand soon. The entire building is split into two: the bar area and then the actually distilling area, which is separated by a window so you can see what's going on. Despite the small distance we had to cover, our tour guide, Christina, was super knowledgeable and gave us a good overview of the history of the distillery and how the spirits are made.


Yeasty mixture - actually quite hot!

Before this tour, I didn't have a good understanding of how liquor is made, but I have a much better understanding now of how the actual alcohol is extracted and how distillers use different grains to get different types of alcohol. I'd highly recommend the tour if you'd like to learn a little bit more! The tour groups are also kept small, so feel free to ask questions throughout. 


Fancy Distilling Equipment

Like I mentioned before Chicago Distilling Company makes white whiskey, vodka and gin. I love whiskey, but Shorty's White Whiskey was far from what I'm used to drinking. Their whiskey isn't aged at all - they're working on it - so it tasted more like a rubbing alcohol/tequila mixture to me. This is best enjoyed mixed in a cocktail! I thought the Ceres Vodka tasted better than the average vodka on the market and Finn's Gin was quote enjoyable (just not in the martini that I had!).


Logan Mule
Overall, I really enjoyed my time touring the Chicago Distilling Company. If you're at all interested in visiting, do it soon before they get bigger and too crowded!

Mar 20, 2015

Old Town Social

St. Patrick's Day is over, which means: it is is MARCH MADNESS!  Hopefully you've all gotten into the spirit by filling out a bracket and sneaking out at lunch time to catch some games.  If you're looking for a fun place to have a few drinks and get something to eat, I'd recommend Old Town Social on North Ave.

I went here last week for a post-work dinner with my boyfriend.  It is pretty easy to walk to from the Sedgwick Brown Line stop (which is important for me since I am currently injured...).  There are a few different areas inside: the large bar area with many televisions behind it, the back area with booths and tables, a front area that seemed more cozy (it has a fireplace!).  There are TVs pretty much everywhere and one of the first things I noticed when I walked in: the wall bracket, just ready to be filled with winning teams and upsets (probably at least 9 feet tall?).


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Obviously this place takes March Madness seriously and will be open early on all game days so that you can get a good viewing spot.  They also take reservations, which I'm sure would come in handy this weekend.

Old Town Social has an extensive beer list, including many local Chicago breweries.  I tried a couple of Moody Tongue beers, which I'd heard of but never tasted, and I really enjoyed the Sliced Nectarine IPA.  My favorite part of their beer menu though was the explanations of the different types of beer at the back.  Good reading material if you're waiting for someone to join you ;)

We knew we wanted burgers and Old Town Social's were YUM.  I had the "OTS" burger that comes with bacon, gruyere and a fried egg--the most PERFECT fried egg I've ever seen.  The whole burger was great and the truffle fries and cheese curds were wonderful sides.  My boyfriend got "The English" burger and would highly recommend it to fans of blue cheese.


LOOK AT THAT EGG
Overall I'd say Old Town Social is chill pub with good food that MAY be trying a little too hard with its ambiance, but I'd definitely go back to watch a game.

Did anyone's brackets get totally busted?  Any other good recommendations for places to watch THE MADNESS?  Are you all spending all weekend glued to the TV or do you ignore the tournament?  Let us know in the comments!

Mar 19, 2015

Tacos, Tacos, Tacos

There are a lot of taco options in this city, but one of the most well-known is Big Star. While Big Star gets a lot of hype, in my opinion it's well-deserved. Not only do they have a delicious and varied assortment of tacos and other Mexican foods, but Big Star also has a solid bar. As a lot of the Mexican places in the city are BYOB, this can be a nice change.



A few weeks ago, wanting to find a warm respite in the sub-zero temps, a few of my friends and I decided to meet there for dinner. I've never been to Big Star before on a Friday night, but I was not surprised that it was super crowded and that there was a wait. However, what did surprise me was that we had to wait close to 2 hours for a table! 

Thankfully, we were able to order chips and guacamole to the barrel we were waiting at - hanger averted. I think part of the reason why it was so crowded, is that Big Star has a huge patio that's open when it's warm out, which probably doubles the amount of people it can seat.

I'm hesitant to say that Big Star is good enough to wait 2 hours (especially if starving), but it's definitely worth a wait, especially if you are able to snack on their chips and guacamole, which are quite good. Their tacos are equally delicious. Previously, I had only had the Taco de Papas (potato taco) taco, which I would recommend to even the most devoted carnivores. This time I had the chance to try the chicken and carnitas tacos and I was not disappointed.

Big Star also has a great selection of drinks. I really love their margaritas - they are super strong and not too sweet (get the pitcher!). The Cheladas (tecate and lime) are pretty good, as well - although it's hard to compare as I've only had Cheladas here! While I don't really understand the connection with tacos and whiskey - they also have a big selection of the latter. They have different $3 whiskey shots each day of the week, as well as a good selection of whiskey cocktails. 


Refreshing Chelada
If you're thinking of going to Big Star, it's best enjoyed in the warm weather out on their patio - just be prepared to wait!

If you have any other taco suggestions, let us know!

Mar 16, 2015

St. Patrick's Day Traditions

Though most of the country (especially CHICAGO!) celebrated St. Patrick's Day this past Saturday, the day isn't officially until tomorrow, March 17th, the presumed day of St. Patrick's death.  This day is very important in Chicago, and other cities with lots of Irish Catholics.  I thought it would be interesting to research more about why this day is so popular, especially since I am ~25% Irish on my dad's side of the family + I went to Notre Dame and Catholic school most of my life, so I know a LOT of Irish Catholics.

While the Irish had been celebrating it as a holy feast day, St. Patrick's Day didn't really become a big deal until Irish Catholics started immigrating to the United States in the 1700s.  When these immigrants started joining the military they decided that they wanted to start throwing their own parades to celebrate their Irish heritage, and what better way than to do this for St. Patrick's Day?  Irish immigrants were persecuted for their Catholic beliefs and Irish traditions, but they were still proud of where they came from, and I think I can say they had the last laugh, since you don't see many people in Chicago NOT wearing green on St. Paddy's Day.

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I was most interested in why drinking (whiskey, green beer, Guinness, etc.) had become so ingrained in the St. Patrick's Day tradition.  Of course there is an old Irish legend, Pota Padraigh (Patrick's Pot), about this:

At his local pub, St. Patrick got stiffed on a shot of whiskey--it was not as full as it should have been.  To teach to the barkeep a lesson, he told him that there was a demon living in the pub's basement.  This demon fed on the barkeep's dishonesty and selfishness and that it could only be banished if the barkeep changed his ways and started being more generous and truthful.  When St. Patrick next visited the pub, the barkeep asked him if he could check on the demon (presumably after pouring him a tall shot of whiskey).  St. Patrick checked the basement and told the barkeep that the demon was starving (since it hadn't been able to feed on dishonesty) and that he would banish it for him.  After that St. Patrick said that everyone should have a drop of "the hard stuff" on his feast day.
 The tradition of green beer actually started in the United States in the early 1900s, when bartenders realized it was pretty easy (green food coloring!) to serve green beer to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.  That idea caught on, and you can find green beer at pretty much every bar now during the week surrounding March 17th.  They even serve green beer in Ireland now too!

So while the majority of Chicago's Irish celebrations may be over (the city parade, the Southside Irish parade, the dyeing of the river, all around day drinking), be sure to have a shot of whiskey or pint of beer tomorrow for St. Patrick.

Mar 13, 2015

St. Patrick's Day Celebrations

St. Patrick's Day in Chicago can be an overwhelming. We've put together some options, to help you figure it out:

Brunch
If you're going to drink all day, you'll need to start with a good base in your stomach - a hearty brunch is the way to do this. Last year we went to Crosby's Kitchen, which is probably one of my favorite brunch places. The food at Crosby's is always solid (their breakfast potatoes are simply some of the best, cheesiest potatoes I've ever had) and their drink menu on St. Patrick's Day was quite festive. Last year, I had their Irish version of a Moscow Mule - ginger beer and Jameson. Or you could always go with their traditional Bloody Mary, not my drink of choice, but I've heard they are great

My other favorite brunch places: Kanela, Southport Grocery, and Wishbone. For bottomless options: Taverna 750, Southport and Irving, Broadway Cellars, and LOKal (haven't been to any of these, but I will definitely be trying them soon!)

Bars

Bars can get SUPER crowded on St. Patrick's Day and, for me, there is nothing worse than being jammed into a bar with hundreds of drunk people. In Chicago, however, we are lucky in that there are bars on almost every corner. If you do decide to go out on St. Patrick's Day, I would recommend going to one of your favorite neighborhood bars. Chances are it will be just as lively, just with a lot less people.

Last year we went to one of our old neighborhood favorites, Southport Lanes, and we're lucky in that there was almost no one else there. While I despise all things bowling related, I do love this bar. They always have a great selection of beer and their food is extremely delicious. When we decided to switch it up and head to Justin's, which is more popular we quickly had to leave because it was too packed.

House Party (our choice this year)

An alternative to the crowds is hosting your own party. Must haves for a St. Patrick's Day Party: snacks, green food coloring, lots of beer, ingredients for Irish Car Bombs, friends.

St. Patrick's Day Past

Whatever you choose to do on St. Patrick's Day - make sure you drink a lot of water and remember to eat!

Mar 11, 2015

Evil Czech Brewery

Over the weekend, I took a trip to my hometown of South Bend to visit my parents. Growing up in that area and then also going to college there, I've pretty much experienced most of the restaurants and bars the city has to offer. However, over the past few years South Bend has seen many new establishments pop up, one them being Evil Czech Brewery.

Evil Czech Brewery (ECB) is located in the building where my dad opened South Bend's first craft brewery/restaurant in the early 90s. While, I was too young to enjoy the beer, I have many fond memories of sitting in the bar eating cheeseburgers and nachos.

Mishawaka Brewing Company closed several years ago (my dad was way ahead of the craft beer game),and I was interested to see what the building looked like now. Especially, it has been well over a decade since I'd been inside. Not only did the outside look completely different, but the layout inside had also changed dramatically. Sadly, I did not take any of my own pictures of the inside.



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We went late Saturday afternoon and the bar was actually super crowded. ECB has an extensive menu - both beer and food. Their beer list is really clever - they listed the beers on playing cards, with the name and ABV/IBU info on the front and a description on the back. At one time, they have  around 18 beers on tap - it was hard to choose from all the options!



I ended up getting a flight, which comes with 5, 5oz. beers. I chose the White IPA, "White Reaper," the Belgian Dubbel, "John the One Eyed," the Cherry Stout, the American Pale Ale, and the Blonde Ale, "Blonde Czich." My favorites were the Belgian Dubbel and the Cherry Stout, which surprised me because I normally don't like Stouts. The White IPA was probably my least favorite, it somehow managed to taste hoppy and watery at the same time. My boyfriend ordered the Bobblehead American Wheat Ale, which was also a good and you can buy it in cans!


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The food menu was just as overwhelming, but I ultimately decided on the pork belly corn dogs. As a newbie to meat eating, this was perhaps not my best choice as I didn't realize that the pork belly would contain so much fat (not my favorite!), but the meaty parts were really good as was the outer cornmeal shell. My boyfriend got the pizza which he said was delicious and my mom ordered the veggie burger, which was also very good. The highlight of the meal for me was the french fries - which were both crispy yet had lots of potato.

I really enjoyed my experience at Evil Czech Brewery. While I will probably never eat pork belly again, I will definitely visit next time I'm in town.

Mar 9, 2015

Ladies at the Beach: Funky Buddha Brewery

A couple of weeks ago, my boyfriend and I took a short weekend trip down to Fort Lauderdale to escape the cold and snow of Chicago.  The last two days of our trip were glorious: sunny, 80, perfect beach weather.  Sadly the first full day was full of rain.  I tried to make the best of things by looking for some indoor activities and found Funky Buddha Brewery.  After a delicious brunch at Lester's Diner, we drove over to Funky Buddha to try some of their beers.

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The taproom is very large compared to some of the smaller ones in Chicago, which was a nice change of pace.  Dave and I sat at the bar and chatted up the cast of characters that made up the bartenders.  We decided we would try all of their 8 "special" beers by ordering 2 flights (4 each), and then we ordered 1 more flight to split in order to try their "standard" beers.

The flight holder is in the shape of a Buddha, and the oyster crackers were a nice touch!
Since we had arrived early in the afternoon, there wasn't much happening in the taproom, so the bartender was able to talk to us more about the beer.  He told us that he pretty much exclusively drinks Funky Buddha's Small Axe, a 10% double IPA.  It sounded like only drinking that strong beer may have messed up his palette as he told us he couldn't taste some of the flavors in their other beers like ginger, lemongrass, blood orange, raspberry, habanero, just to name a few.  He said Small Axe was the best beer in the land, and when I asked him if he had tried Bell's Hopslam he said it was "garbage compared to Small Axe".  While I don't agree with him about that, Small Axe was a pretty good double IPA, although it wasn't as smooth as others I've had.

My favorites out of the beers we tried were a pineapple IPA (Pineapple Hop Gun) and a blood orange American IPA (More Moro).  They were both fruity without overpowering the taste of the hops.

Unfortunately it looks like Funky Buddha is only available in Florida at the moment, but if you're ever visiting, definitely look out for it on tap!

Mar 6, 2015

Cooking with Beer

Alyssa and I love to drink and this blog was created to celebrate our love of doing so, but we would be remiss if we also didn't sometimes write about food - specifically cooking food with alcohol.*

For the majority of my adult life I was a vegetarian...until a few months ago when I decided to start eating meat again. Not only did this open up so many more options to eat (and sandwich options at my beloved Potbelly <3), but I can now get a little more creative with my cooking.



One of my first forays in cooking meat
As a vegetarian, most of my experience cooking with alcohol was limited to risotto (very delicious). However, since starting to eat meat, I have found various ways to incorporate beer or wine into my cooking. Cooking with alcohol can add a really nice flavor and moistness to meat...and you can drink whatever you don't use! My most recent foray into mingling meat and beer was making slow cooker BBQ chicken. It was so tasty that I decided I would share the recipe.  

I cook fairly often, but I'm far from an expert, and I think this recipe would be easy for cooks of all skill levels. I also improvised this recipe (only really looking up how long to cook the chicken and getting a little input from my boyfriend), so feel free to add your own take on it:

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken


-3 Chicken Breasts (you could add more, just make sure to increase the other ingredients too!)


-about 3/4 of a 16oz. bottle of BBQ sauce (I used 3/4 because that is what I had left but it seemed to work!)


-about 6-8oz of beer (I find 312 to be a perfect beer for cooking. It has a mild flavor but is still better than the light beer you drank in college)


Medley of Spices:
I used 1 tbsp Chili Powder, 1 tsp Cumin, a bit of Paprika, some cayenne, some garlic powder and salt.



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Cover the chicken in the spice mixture and then throw the rest in the pot along with the other ingredients. Put the slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours...and that's it! Once the chicken is done, it easily falls apart with just a fork. It makes about 5-6 servings, depending on how much you eat.


In my opinion, the beer adds a nice mild flavor to the chicken - without it the BBQ sauce might be too sweet or tangy. It also kept the chicken from getting too dry and the BBQ sauce from getting too thick. 

This chicken would taste great on a sandwich, but I was so prepared for this recipe that I forgot to pick up bread...I ate it with a side of homemade mac and cheese - perfect for the frigid temperatures outside!

Aside from BBQ chicken, I've also used beer/wine to make chicken tacos and cauliflower tacos, risotto, a whole roasted chicken and pork chops - other recipes that I'm sure I'll be sharing!

*One of us has also been too busy watching House of Cards to visit new bars.

Mar 4, 2015

Lakefront Brewing: New Grist

Beer is definitely my favorite kind of alcoholic beverage.  It comes in so many different varieties, yet the major ingredients are so simple: water, hops, wheat/barley and yeast.  Sadly, I am no longer supposed to consume beer because barley contains gluten...no, I'm lucky enough that I don't have celiac disease, but I've been trying to stay on a gluten-free (GF) diet because it seems to be helping with my chronic daily headaches.  I do still indulge in non-GF beers on the regular, but I do it with the knowledge that I will probably not feel so great later, but the trade off is worth it to me because I really love beer.

While I love bread, cookies, cake, etc. the hardest thing to forgo/find a GF version of is BEER.  Sure, I could drink hard cider instead, but most of those are VERY sweet and get old after one drink.  GF beer is getting easier to find out at bars and in your local liquor store (Omission and Two Brothers both make good ones), but there still aren't many varieties.  One of the best GF beers I've had so far comes from Lakefront Brewery (ayoo Milwaukee): New Grist.
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New Grist is so called because it is made with sorghum and rice instead of barley or wheat.  It has a slightly sweet taste but still tastes enough like beer that I wouldn't confuse it with a hard cider.  New Grist is 5% alcohol contest by volume, which makes it more similar to session beer (as opposed to most craft beers which are >5-6%).  It is very light, which makes it great and refreshing in the summer.  Most of my friends have tried it and they appreciate it even though they can have as much gluten as their little hearts desire.

When we were in Milwaukee I got to try the new version of this beer: New Grist with Ginger!  If you like ginger ale you will like this beer.  One of my friends said she didn't even think it tasted like beer at all (so if you're one of those ladies--sorry, people--who doesn't enjoy beer, you might like this!).  I hope that New Grist with Ginger will be available this summer in the Chicagoland area, because I think it would pair very well with BBQ and hanging out on patios.

Mar 3, 2015

Club W

At Ladies at the Bar, we love a good beer but this lady also enjoys the occasional glass (or bottle) of wine. (After our trip to Milwaukee beer has lost some of it's appeal). For my birthday, a few of my friends gifted me a subscription to Club W. Club W is a like a Birchbox for wines. For $45 a month ($39 for the wine, $6 for shipping) you receive 3 bottles of wine (or more if you choose), which they tailor to your taste preferences.

When you first sign up for Club W, they ask you a series of questions so that they can figure out what kind of wine you would like most. For me, it was mostly dry reds with a few whites thrown in. Club W will give you a list of recommendations, but you are also free to select whatever wines you want - but be warned they have many to choose from! They also have videos accompanying each wine so you can learn more about it and a helpful guide for recommended pairings. The night I signed up to redeem my present I must have spent over an hour going through the videos/website trying to decide which wines to buy!

The thing that I really love about Club W is that they don't just have a bunch of run of the mill wines, but they pride themselves on curating unique wines that you might not regularly try. The cut out the distributors which allows them to sell higher quality wines at a lower price than usual. Most of their wines are around $13, but they have "Curator's Choice" wines that are a bit more pricey. As a person who routinely buys whatever wine is cheaper than $15 at Whole Foods, this was a nice change of pace for me.
For my first Club W shipment, I chose Le Fermier Cinsault, Trestle Chardonnay and Les Bobos Carignane. I still have yet to drink the Chardonnay. However, I really, really enjoyed Les Bobos. It came in a super cute bottle and it was unlike most red wines I've had before and it tasted both jammy and dry. 

My blurry photography skills

A few things to be aware of:
As soon as you put in your payment details, you are automatically subscribed to receive new wine every month. You are able to skip months, but unless you go into your profile and select this option, your wine will still be shipped. This happened to me my second month (still hadn't gotten through the first shipment!) and I was a little peeved - but more wine is never a bad thing!

Another thing to note, you MUST have someone older than 21 to be present at the time of delivery. Because I work 9 to 5, this was a little difficult for me to figure out. Thankfully, having a doorman can get you out of this situation.
Club W makes a great gift or a treat for yourself!