I recently stopped by Pastoral on Lake Street to pick up some wine for a BBQ I was attending later in the evening. As I always do when I go into Pastoral, I ask recommendations. The staff is excellent at listening to what you really want and recommending something that truly fits that description. They have a very unique wine selection, so typically unless I'm going back to get something I had before, I'm trying something new.
When I said I was looking for something for a classic BBQ, meaning hamburgers and hot dogs, a Riesling was immediately recommended. I'm sure I must have made a face, but he followed by saying he guaranteed I'd like it. I am not a big fan of sweet wines, and am especially not a fan of Riesling in general, so I was very skeptical.
He gave me a couple of options and did an excellent job of explaining the differences between them; he also gave me a great history of Riesling while we were talking. I ended up selecting the Keller Riesling. I took it to the party and my friend made the same type of face I'd made in Pastoral! We both tasted the wine together and agreed it was a very good recommendation. It was still slightly sweet, but more mineral tasting than I would typically associate with a Riesling. Overall, a good summer wine.
I also asked if he had any cheese recommendations to go with the Riesling, and he suggested Prairie Breeze Cheddar from Milton Creamery in Iowa. He explained that the cheese curds were less packed than a typical cheddar, which gave it a nice creamy consistency. It was good on its own, however did go very well with the Riesling.
If you want some unique wine, a great cheese selection and fantastic service, I'd highly recommend stopping by Pastoral. And they make great sandwiches too!
Pastoral is located at 53 E. Lake Street in the loop with several other locations in Chicago.