Wine Enthusiast’s Annual Restaurant Awards

Wine Enthusiast's Annual Restaurant Awards

If the applications for Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s 2005 Restaurant Awards are any indication, more restaurants are working harder to build great wine programs than ever before. In this, the second year of our annual restaurant awards, it’s apparent that the industry (and the consumers who support it) are taking wine very seriously.

It’s no exaggeration to say that every application we received revealed a wine program crafted with thought, care, and, yes, love. So we’re especially proud to report the results of our awards for 2005.

Three levels of awards are given: the Award of Distinction, the Award of Unique Distinction and the highest, the Award of Ultimate Distinction.

It’s worth noting, too, that Wine Enthusiast’s Restaurant Awards differ from other such awards because they are based on the quality of the wine program, not just on the size of the list. Selection, service, individuality and value are all taken into consideration by our panel of judges.

Applicants were asked to disclose how many selections appear on their lists and how many bottles they keep in inventory, but they were also rated on their selection of large-format and half bottles, and wines by the glass. An impressive 64 percent of applicants have inventories of 5,000 bottles or more. Sixty-nine percent of applicants have between 101 and 500 different selections on their wine lists. All applicants had to submit their actual wine lists and sample menus.

Two potentially costly, but vital, aspects of any wine program were evaluated: storage and stemware. More and more restaurants are investing in these areas. Some 91 percent reported that they keep their collections in temperature-controlled quarters, while 90 percent use brand-name or custom stemware.

Finally, the restaurants were asked to describe their wine calendars and the opportunities they afford guests to taste and learn about wine. The answers ranged from paired tasting menus each night to special wine dinners and winemaker events, from tasting flights to classes and newsletters.

We received applications from restaurants located all over the U.S. and a few outside it, serving every possible style of food in every possible format—country inns, classic steak houses, funky bistros, grand hotel restaurants, hip urban eateries and everything in between.

Only the top 6 percent of our applicants were judged to have wine programs of such breadth, depth and excellence that they qualified for our Award of Ultimate Distinction. And of course, the unnamed winners are the legions of restaurant patrons who are treated to better wine programs in more restaurants than ever before.

Congratulations to all!

* All of the following restaurants received the Award of Ultimate Distinction. Click on the restaurant’s name for the full review.

** Visit our searchable database of all of the Award Winning Restaurants from around the country.


Alain Ducasse at the Essex House
New York, New York

Johnny’s Bar
Cleveland, Ohio

Las Vegas, Nevada

The Kitchen
Sacramento, California

Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare
Las Vegas, Nevada

The Lark
West Bloomfield, Michigan
Bern’s Steak House
Tampa, Florida
Las Vegas, Nevada
Café Rabelais
Houston, Texas
Mr Stox Restaurant
Anaheim, California
Cascadia Restaurant
Seattle, Washington
Napa Rose
Anaheim, California
Charlie Trotter’s
Chicago, Illinois
Chicago, Illinois
Columbia Restaurant
Tampa, Florida
Pluckemin Inn
Bedminster, New Jersey
Crabtree’s Kittle House
Chappaqua, New York
Smith & Wollensky
New York, New York
Commander’s Palace
New Orleans, Louisiana
Swingos on the Lake
Lakewood, Ohio
Dulces Latin Bistro
Seattle, Washington
Todd Jurich’s Bistro
Norfolk, Virginia
Elizabeth’s Café and Winery
Duck, North Carolina
La Toque
Rutherford, California
Boston, Massachusetts
Trattoria Nostrani
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Grill 23 & Bar
Boston, Massachusetts
Vic & Anthony’s Steakhouse
Houston, Texas
The Herbfarm
Woodinville, Washington
Vivere in the Italian Village
Chicago, Illinois
Inn at Thorn Hill
Jackson, New Hampshire
Wild Ginger Asian Restaurant & Satay Bar
Seattle, Washington


Published on February 1, 2006

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