Save the Date for Boozy New Dinners at Chicago Restaurants

Oenophiles, take note. Several wine dinners take place in the coming weeks, celebrating the wines of Montalcino, Burgundy, natural wines, and even wines that match well with live opera.

The wines of Montalcino are at the forefront of the Il Poggione wine dinner taking place October 23 at Piccolo Sogno. Co-hosted by wine master Alessandro Bindocci, the event will showcase a seasonal Italian tasting menu prepared by Tony Priolo to highlight Il Poggione's premier Brunellos. The event starts with a reception at 6:00 p.m., followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m. The menu opens with insalata d' uva with roasted grapes, baby arugula, lemon oil, and goat cheese, paired with 2011 Mazzoni Bianco. Next, ricotta and spinach dumplings come with spiced wild boar ragu and a glass of 2011 Rosso di Montalcino. Things get meaty with grilled venison chops, farro, and squash puree, served with a pour of 2008 Brunello di Montalcino. The subsequent cheese course features a tasting of Pecorino Tartufato, aged balsamic, slow-roasted grapes, walnuts, and honey, with the 2007 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva. Housemade biscotti comprises dessert, with a bit of Grappa to wash it all down. Dinner costs $80 per person. RSVP by calling (312) 421-0077 or emailing

Don't you hate when you're enjoying a wine dinner but there's no live opera? It's tough. That's why you should make your way to 437 Rush on November 1 for a special four-course wine dinner paired with a bit of live opera. The entertaining evening features Hush Opera's "Harmony," atuned to chef Christian Fantoni's degustation. As diners eat and drink their night away, they'll swoon to the tunes of singers such as Cynthia Firing, Christine Steyer, Jay Morrissey, Alessandro Magno, and pianist/conductor Nyela Basney. Get hungry for dishes such as goat cheese lollipops, butternut squash shooters, large tube pasta with duck ragout, bacon-wrapped pork medallions, roasted Alaskan halibut, and Italian pumpkin, apple, and cherry tart. A reception begins with hors d'oeuvres and Prosecco at 6:00 p.m., followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m. Dinner is $125 per person, and reservations can be made by calling (312) 222-0101.

Roka Akor
(Now that's a wine dinner. Roka Akor)

Pinot Noir and Chardonnay take the stage at Roka Akor's Burgundy wine dinner on November 5. Lauded winemaker William Fevre & Bouchard is the notable guest du jour, helping to synchronize wines for each of chef Brett Vibber's seven courses. Dishes include Kumamoto oyster with yuzu shaved ice, ikura, and fruit pearls adjoined by New Bedford diver scallop with caviar, white truffle and a glass of Henriot Blanc de Blancs Brut. Lobster claw with green tea gyoza, lemongrass coconut broth, and tobiko comes with Bouchard Pere et Fils, while pork roulade with robata-smoked bacon, shiso, and umeboshi pairs with William Fevre Valmur Grand Cru. And that's just a small taste. Other dishes intertwined throughout the evening include a tuna sashimi flight, grilled duck breast, and Wagyu short rib. Cost to attend is $99 per person, and tickets can be purchased here.

Natural wines are on tap for a November 14 wine dinner at Autre Monde Cafe & Spirits, wherein owners Christine Tully and John Aranza welcome Sicilian winemaker Frank Cornelissen as their special guest. This is a big deal. Cornelissen is in higher demand than Bjork at Pitchfork, making his first appearance in the Chicagoland area and only his second in the United States. The revered winemaker is renowned for his natural wines, made with zero chemicals, sulfites, or artificial supplements. Wines are even aged the good ol' fashioned way in uncoated amphora. They're in perfect harmony with the Mediterranean-inspired cuisine at Autre Monde, helmed by chefs Dan Pancake and Beth Patridge. Since yields on Cornelissen's wines are small, the dinner is a highly unique opportunity to sample something truly special. His portfolio for the evening includes MunJebel Bianco, Rosso del Contadino No. 10, and MunJebel Rosso No. 8VA. A welcome reception begins at 6:30 p.m., followed by a four-course, wine-paired dinner. The cost is $98 per person, and reservations can be made by calling (708) 775-8122.