One Friday every month, Cook Street, a culinary college, opens its doors to downtrodden commuters for an after-work sampling of fine wines. Not only is the party reasonably priced at $25 per person, but it comes with various hors d'oeuvre prepared on the premises by a master chef. Best of all, this beat-the-traffic happy hour unfolds in LoDo, so you can stroll right from the haute tidbits and the audacious nose of that beaujolais to a swank, overpriced bistro to make a few comparisons. Glass dismissed.

Colorado's once-obscure Western Slope vineyards are gaining quality and stature with each new vintage. Witness the sublime Cabernet Sauvignon made by Canyon Wind, a young winery owned by Norman and Ellen Christianson and overseen by the well-respected Napa Valley winemaker Robert Pepi. Intense and complex, the 1996 cab is deep purple, well-balanced and bursting with mature fruit. At $20 a bottle, the stuff is not inexpensive, but it's exactly the right accompaniment to a slab of rare prime beef or herb-crusted lamb chops.

Colorado's once-obscure Western Slope vineyards are gaining quality and stature with each new vintage. Witness the sublime Cabernet Sauvignon made by Canyon Wind, a young winery owned by Norman and Ellen Christianson and overseen by the well-respected Napa Valley winemaker Robert Pepi. Intense and complex, the 1996 cab is deep purple, well-balanced and bursting with mature fruit. At $20 a bottle, the stuff is not inexpensive, but it's exactly the right accompaniment to a slab of rare prime beef or herb-crusted lamb chops.

240 Union Restaurant
Courtesy of 240 Union
Most of the wines at 240 Union come in between $20 and $30, and many cost even less, making this comfortably chic eatery even more of a good thing. The savvy cooking of chef/part-owner Matthew Franklin is fine on its own, but it's even better paired with fine wines. Select from such interesting compilations as "Cutting Edge" or "Nothing Boring," play it safe with a "Comfort Zone" red, or just pick at whim. Your glass is bound to be more than half full -- and at a fair price.
Most of the wines at 240 Union come in between $20 and $30, and many cost even less, making this comfortably chic eatery even more of a good thing. The savvy cooking of chef/part-owner Matthew Franklin is fine on its own, but it's even better paired with fine wines. Select from such interesting compilations as "Cutting Edge" or "Nothing Boring," play it safe with a "Comfort Zone" red, or just pick at whim. Your glass is bound to be more than half full -- and at a fair price.
Flagstaff House Restaurant
Mark Antonation
If you can't find a wine among the thousands offered by the Flagstaff House, then it's time to start growing your own grapes. Consistently voted one of the nation's best wine lists, the vino roster at Flagstaff is 30,000 bottles strong, with something for every palate and price range. The staff is as knowledgeable as anyone can be about 2,000 types of wine, and eager to turn you on to something new. Add to the vintage experience by sipping at a window-side table and gazing out into the twinkle-lit, tree-lined Foothills.

If you can't find a wine among the thousands offered by the Flagstaff House, then it's time to start growing your own grapes. Consistently voted one of the nation's best wine lists, the vino roster at Flagstaff is 30,000 bottles strong, with something for every palate and price range. The staff is as knowledgeable as anyone can be about 2,000 types of wine, and eager to turn you on to something new. Add to the vintage experience by sipping at a window-side table and gazing out into the twinkle-lit, tree-lined Foothills.

We raise a glass to the Fourth Story, whose excellent roster of by-the-glass wines just keeps getting better. This chic, comfortable restaurant atop the Tattered Cover boasts a cozy bar for tasting and nearly forty opportunities to try a vino you've never sampled before. The selection changes almost weekly, and it's always a well-thought-out list that includes some old favorites as well as more off-the-beaten-path choices. A half-dozen bubblies are always offered, as well as a non-alcoholic wine. The staff also endeavors to come up with interesting samplers, such as three rosés or chardonnays with something in common, so sippers can get a sense of the differences in vintage, style or vineyard. Perhaps most important, the bartenders are careful to pour 5 1/2 ounces into each oversized Schott crystal glass. Salut!
We raise a glass to the Fourth Story, whose excellent roster of by-the-glass wines just keeps getting better. This chic, comfortable restaurant atop the Tattered Cover boasts a cozy bar for tasting and nearly forty opportunities to try a vino you've never sampled before. The selection changes almost weekly, and it's always a well-thought-out list that includes some old favorites as well as more off-the-beaten-path choices. A half-dozen bubblies are always offered, as well as a non-alcoholic wine. The staff also endeavors to come up with interesting samplers, such as three rosés or chardonnays with something in common, so sippers can get a sense of the differences in vintage, style or vineyard. Perhaps most important, the bartenders are careful to pour 5 1/2 ounces into each oversized Schott crystal glass. Salut!
California Cafe
The California Cafe is a link in a chain out of -- you guessed it -- California, but each outlet can tailor its menu and wine list to the area. The California Cafe at Park Meadows draws its inspiration regionally, with daily specials that highlight the area's indigenous ingredients and fresh produce. Working with company headquarters, general manager Linda Kuhns has assembled a list of all-California wines that complement the food perfectly. Look for a Stonestreet merlot that goes beautifully with lamb sirloin, or a glass of Grgich Hills sauvignon blanc for a post-shopping lunch of ostrich burger and grilled tomatoes. The list is 200 vintages strong and includes some of the best wines our domestic vineyards have to offer, including a particularly delightful Cabernet Sauvignon Page.

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