Restaurants in the Limelight

When it comes to new wine discoveries, innovative selections and setting wine trends, America's restaurants are rocking more than ever.


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America’s passion for wine—and the growth of its wine culture—continues to defy even the most erratic swings in our national economy, and much of that growth is inspired by energetic restaurant wine programs.

According to a recently released Wine Market Council study, patronage at white-tablecloth restaurants increased from 2008–2011, as did the number of diners ordering bottles of wine in those restaurants. In a ­period that saw a financial downturn in almost every other sector of life, it’s amazing that even more Americans are exploring the world of wine and food, with little sign of stopping. 

This month, our team of editors presents an incredible list of 100 wine-driven restaurants across the country, all distinguished for their innovative approaches to bringing the best and most interesting wine to you. What comprises a Wine Enthusiast 100 Best Wine Restaurant? A deep and ­iconic wine list always catches our eye, of course, but it goes beyond that. How creative is the list? How progressive is the sommelier’s approach to educating diners about the wines? And how committed is the restaurant to offering on-point and unique wine-and-food pairings? Our 100 Best Wine Restaurants of 2012 set the bar high on all measures.

Speaking of food-friendly wines, Managing Editor Joe Czerwinski’s article on the best white wines of New Zealand highlights some of the most delicious—and most affordable—sips on the market. For those who aren’t aware, the country’s options range far beyond Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, offering both diversity and complexity.

Yet wine isn’t the only beverage that pairs with food. As Tasting Director Lauren Buzzeo explores, craft beer and food pairings are an exciting trend in 2012. Add to that evolutions like estate beers, high-quality pours in a can and more.

Also this month, European Editor Roger Voss goes on the road in search of culinary and ­vinous discoveries in the storybook-­scenic wine region of Alsace, France. His tour ­reveals ­essential stops in this historic region for wine lovers, with beautiful photos to illustrate his adventures.

The discovery of wine is a lifelong pursuit. Whether at your favorite restaurant, on the road in an exciting locale or right at home, tasting and enjoying the world’s wine has ­never been easier or better.

Cheers!

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