Looking for a place in Central Illinois where you can try a variety of wines and good cheese? Look no further than The Wine Experience, attached to Super Liquors in Peoria, 818 E War Memorial Dr, Peoria Heights.
Here you can order a variety of wines by the glass, and this is a hefty glass of wine. You also have a choice of several nice sandwiches, such as a crab cake sandwich (which they were out of on my most recent visit) and an Oriental chicken sandwich, desserts, and the aforementioned cheese plate. I ordered one of these in the absence of the crab cake sandwich and the cheeses were excellent and accompanied by some quince spread and bread slices and an apple garnish. They also offer beers by the bottle for those beeries (thanks Pammy) who don't feel like partaking o' the grape.
A nice bonus is if you like your wine or cheese, you can stop by Super Liquors on your way out and pick up some to take home.
If you have a sensitive tush that protests after an hour of sitting on a wooden bar stool with a wooden back, you can scam a seat on the cushy couches.
The Wine Experience has live entertainment many nights, and are open Wednesday-Saturday.
On a side note, on of the reasons we ended up at The Wine Experience the other night was that we had been out at the Vintage Illinois wine festival at Three Sisters Park in Chillicothe. It was a nice time. For your $10 fee, you received 5 tasting tickets and a wine glass. We tried something from every winery there save for Mackinaw Valley, and the only reason we did not try their selections was because we have visited their winery several times.
We spoke to Mr. Furrow from Furrow Vineyard and Winery and we will certainly visit the winery soon. We picked up a bottle of their red wine that features their red barn on the label.
My personal favorite, and according to the gentleman who served it to me, also the show favorite, was Spirit Knob Chambourcin Estate Reserve. The wine tasted great, but what got me was the finish. I've never been one to gush about the oaky tannins or hints of pepper or black cherry or whatever in a wine, unless I'm poking fun. But this wine had a distinct vanilla finish, which was very surprising, and very pleasant.
We bought a bottle, and apparently they don't have a website, so if this bottle holds true to what we sampled at the show, we'll be contacting them or making the trek to Ursa, Illinois, which we had never heard of until we picked up the Spirit Knob brochure. Might be a good road trip to get in some geocaching.
April, 2007 - On a more recent trip to the Wine Experience, they do still have some excellent-sounding food options on the menu. We weren't hungry, so we passed. However, I must say, I miss some of the past "experience" of the Wine Experience. They used to have the leather-bound wine list with pages describing each wine in detail. This time, no description, just the name and price. And they used to deliver your glass of wine with a card showing the name, bin number and description, so if you liked it, you could easily buy a bottle later.
But, they did have a live band, and I had a great time.
July, 2007 - We went into Super Liquors only to find the Wine Experience filled with racks and bottles of wine. The Wine Experience has been turned into a retail/tasting area.