The Ciao BTG selections mirror the bottles in our Big Book: boutique producers, garagistas, obscure varietals, underrated regions, bodacious blends, bang for the buck – in short, a single page microcosm of the wild ride that is the Cowboy Ciao wine list.
In 1972, my pal Gary Rosing and I invented Fantasy Baseball in the sketchy confines of Tomasello’s Bowling Alley & Pizza Parlor on the Chain o’ Lakes in Johnsburg, Illinois. Which means we are indirectly responsible for every other Fantasy Sports League that has followed (sorry, sports widows) (and you’re welcome, internet gambling). We think. I also believe we invented Wine Flights at Steven Café & Restaurant in Scottsdale, circa 1981. Regardless of the ownership of fantasy or otherwise (it is so hard to let that go) (not the ownership, the multiple one-liners), Cowboy Ciao has prominently featured wine flights since its debut in 1997, and is still serving them in custom flight boards created by our opening Bar Manager (ironically, Cowboy Ciao at Sky Harbor Airport, or as we call it, Sky Ciao, no wine flights!) (YET).
Our Wine List has been compared to a Bible, which is apropos both due to its size and because wine is a religion to us. The List represents a dozen states, 45 countries, 250 varietals, and it’s arranged by color and price, with various spotlights featuring a winery, or a vintage, or a haiku. So, sure, we admit it’s a bit confusing for those who know they want the same big name mass produced bottle they can find in every other restaurant (or grocery store, for that matter), but for those willing to experience something unique, this novella of a Wine List is chock full of boutique wineries, rare varietals, garage-ista operations and the occasional bootlegger. There are also lists for by-the-glass, wine flights, and ‘sweeties & stickies’ (by the one ounce pour) if you prefer to dip your toe in first.
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