100 Best Wine Restaurants 2012
We’ve combed the nation for the ultimate wine-centric dining establishments. So what does it take to make the cut for our America’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants list? These superlative hot spots have established themselves as standouts for wine lovers, boasting visionary beverage programs and innovative menus, with eye-catching ambiance and exceptional service. Along with our picks, the following pages are filled with exclusive chef and sommelier interviews, delectable recipes, top trends and wine bottles to savor. There’s something for every taste.
A Voce Columbus
Phone: (212) 823-2523
A Voce prides itself on introducing guests to unfamiliar regions through cuisine and wines, acquainting diners to foods and wines they may have never encountered.
Read a Q&A with A Voce’s Executive Chef Missy Robbins.
Wine list: The wine list is 70% Italian, 15% American and 15% French, with approximately 20 wines offered by the glass. A large-format bottle is opened nightly, and guests may purchase by the glass, carafe or quartino.
Perfect pair: Wine and Beverage Director Olivier Flosse enjoys pairing the Octopus with Olive Oil with MandraRossa’s 2010 Fiano from Sicily.
Riot worthy: ‘Removing the Funghi al Forno from the menu would create a lot of unhappy guests.’
Destination bottle: Château d’Yquem 1900 Sauternes
Salcheto 2007 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano,—Melchior
Related links: Stump the Sommelier
Recipe of the Month: Tomato and Sweet Onion Salad with Braised Baby Octopus
City: New York City
Phone: (415) 771-2216
A16 focuses on Southern Italian cuisine, emphasizing seasonality and wine pairings.
Read a Q&A with A16’s Executive Chef and Salumaio Christopher Thompson and get his Crispy Pork Belly With Fava Beans, Pea Tendrils and Salsa Verde recipe.
Wine list: The wine list encompasses 500-plus bottles, predominately from Campania, Puglia, Basilicata, Sardinia and Sicily, with the remaining wines celebrating small production in California.
Perfect pair: A16 offers Tuna Conserva year-round with seasonal presentations. Fiano di Avellino sings with the Maccaronara pasta dish, “truly an example of ‘if it grows together, it goes together,’” says Shelley Lindgren, wine director and owner.
Riot worthy: Originating from Nusco, Campania, the Maccaronara Pasta with Ragu Napoletana and Housemade Ricotta Salata is a customer favorite with a soulful quality that has never been off the menu.
Destination bottle: Occhipinti 2006 Grotte Alte (Cerasuolo di Vittoria)
Related links: The James Beard Foundation Celebrates its Silver Anniversary
A16 offers Tuna Conserva year-round with seasonal presentations. Fiano di Avellino sings with the Maccaronara pasta dish, “truly an example of ‘if it grows together, it goes together,’” says Shelley Lindgren, wine director and owner.
The wine list encompasses 500-plus bottles, predominately from Campania, Puglia, Basilicata, Sardinia and Sicily, with the remaining wines celebrating small production in California.
City: San Francisco
Address: ‘Originating from Nusco, Campania, the Maccaronara Pasta with Ragu Napoletana and Housemade Ricotta Salata is a customer favorite with a soulful quality that has never been off the menu.’
Phone: (212) 475-5829
The cuisine is seasonal American, with an emphasis on the farm-to-table movement.
Wine list: The wine program is centered on organic, local and biodynamic offerings.
Perfect pair: ‘We love to pair our Chiroubles, chilled, with Soft-shell Crab with a Hot Chili Sweet-and-Sour Glaze. Even though it is a red, we keep it chilled and it’s the perfect gateway into the spring seafood dishes.”
Riot worthy: ‘Crab Toast with Lemon Aioli on Toasted Sullivan Street Bakery Bread and Sea Bass with Herbs, Market Potatoes and Spinach are favorites among guests.’
Destination bottle: Beaux Frères Vintage Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley) 2009
Antiyal Red (Maipo Valley) 2008
Bergström Sigrid Chardonnay (Willamette Valley) 2009
Related links: Jean Georges
Wine’s Face Changing
City: New York City
Addison at The Grand Del Mar
Phone: (858) 314-1900
Contemporary French cuisine with local, seasonal ingredients. Wine and food pairings never repeat the same grape, country or style of wines on any given tasting menu.
Wine list: The wine program is extensive and deep, strong on verticals and diverse, highlighting small producers.
Perfect pair: Mushroom Velouté, Coddled Farm Egg and Brioche Bread Crumbs with Domaine Leroy’s 2006 Bourgogne Blanc. “The velouté hits a crescendo with this pairing,” says Jesse Rodriquez, wine director and sommelier.
Riot worthy: ‘One signature dish is the Braised Short Ribs, having gone from rustic to refined, using Port wine and various spices.’
Destination bottle: René Geoffroy NV Cumières Brut (Champagne)
Dönnhoff 2010 Riesling (Nahe)
Related links: A Sommelier Gives San Diego the Spotlight
Riesling in Many Languages
Mushroom Velouté, Coddled Farm Egg and Brioche Bread Crumbs with Domaine Leroy’s 2006 Bourgogne Blanc. “The velouté hits a crescendo with this pairing,” says Jesse Rodriquez, wine director and sommelier.
The wine program is extensive and deep, strong on verticals and diverse, highlighting small producers.
City: San Diego
Address: ‘One signature dish is the Braised Short Ribs, having gone from rustic to refined, using Port wine and various spices.’
Adour Alain Ducasse at The St. Regis New York
Phone: (212) 710-2277
Contemporary French in style, the seasonal menu is created to work in harmony with both red and white wines.
Wine list: The wine list is 90% American and French, with 10% of offerings from the rest of the world.
Perfect pair: Langoustines a la Nage de Chardonnay with Pierre Morey’s 2008 Les Tessons Meursault. It works well with the texture of the langoustines, as the acidity and minerality from the Meursault cuts the creaminess of the nage and its citrus notes complement the grapefruit segments in the dish.
Riot worthy: ‘Langoustines a la Nage de Chardonnay, which features a sauce that has a touch of orange and ginger and is served with grapefruit segments.’
Destination bottle: Domaine Leflaive 1992 Batard-Montrachet
Screaming Eagle 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley)
Moët & Chandon 1973 Cuvée Dom Perignon Oenothèque Brut (Champagne)
Related links: Fare Play: Béarnaise, Revisited
Champagne’s Brightest Stars
City: New York City
Alma de Cuba
Phone: (215) 988-1799
Coined “Nuevo Latino,” the cuisine is a riff on traditional Latin cuisine. Guests often choose a wine first, and the service team recommends a fitting dish.
Wine list: The wine list has a strong South American influence, with a wide range of various varietals from across the region.
Perfect pair: The Mar de Frades Albariño from Rías Baixas has fresh citrus-zest notes and acidity on the finish that pairs well with a range of Alma de Cuba’s ceviche offerings.
Riot worthy: ‘A guest favorite since its introduction, the Vaca Frita is a pan-seared skirt steak served with onions and Cuban oregano, with black beans, white rice and tomato escabeche.’
Destination bottle: Bodega Catena Zapata 2007 Catena Alta Malbec (Mendoza)
Quintessa 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley)
Truchard 2010 Roussanne (Carneros)
Related links: Perfecto Mojitos
Phone: (505) 988-3030
Creative Southwestern cuisine.
Get Anasazi Restaurant’s popular Buffalo Burger recipe, made with artisinal bacon, escabeche onions and orange-chipotle mayo.
Wine list: The wine program features 300 international wine labels spanning the globe.
Perfect pair: The Duck Enchilada Molé paired with Alberti’s Malbec from Mendoza is a favorite pairing.
Riot worthy: ‘The Duck Enchilada Molé starter, featuring pico de gallo and cilantro sour cream, has been a hit on the menu for 10 years.’
Destination bottle: Tikal 2009 Patriota Malbec-Bonarda (Mendoza)
Gruet NV Brut Rosé (New Mexico)
Related links: Destination: Santa Fe
Visiting Mendoza, Argentina
Additional info: Burgers
City: Santa Fe
Art and Soul
Phone: (202) 393-7777
Regionally inspired cuisine with a Southern twist.
Get Art and Soul’s Maple Ham Hoecake and Shrimp and Grits recipes.
Wine list: The wine program focuses on small-batch production wines and sustainable producers.
Perfect pair: The Trio of Tamworth Pig (belly, shoulder, housemade kielbasa), along with La Gerla’s Rosso di Montalcino is a perfect pairing.
Riot worthy: ‘The Shrimp and Grits, served with housemade andouille sausage (from locally sourced pigs) is a signature dish, blending classic Southern and regional ingredients.’
Destination bottle: Kirchmayr 1975 Soloist Neuburger (Neusiedlersee)
Dobogó 2008 Furmint-Hárslevelű-Muscat Lunel (Tokaj)
Related links: Soul Food Steps Up
Jimbo’s Hambo (Ham with mustard glaze and pineapple salsa)
Demystifying the Sommelier
Phone: (702) 266-9977
B&B Ristorante’s philosophy revolves around using quality local ingredients prepared as simply as possible, served with wines that celebrate the vernacular of the Italian table.
Get the Grilled Octopus with Fagioli Marinati and Spicy Limoncello Vinaigrette
recipe courtesy of Mario Batali, chef/owner of B&B Ristorante.
Wine list: With almost 1,000 selections, the wine list is broad and progressive, featuring venerable producers from Piedmont and Tuscany, as well as more esoteric wines from Etna’s volcanic slopes.
Perfect pair: The succulent, vibrant Grilled Octopus with Fagioli Marinati and Spicy Limoncello Vinaigrette is perfectly framed by the lithe texture of the Laura Aschero’s 2010 Pigato.
Riot worthy: The Beef Cheek Ravioli with Black Truffle, Crushed Duck Livers and Browned Butter is decadently rich, deeply flavored and unctuous, and is best paired with Zyme’s 2007 Valpolicella Classico Superiore.
Destination bottle: Giacomo Conterno 1958 Monfortino Riserva (Barolo)
Giuseppe Quintarelli 1990 Riserva (Recioto della Valpolicella)
Related links: Digging Treasured Truffles in Unexpected Places
Filet of Beef en Roulade with Black Truffles
The succulent, vibrant Grilled Octopus with Fagioli Marinati and Spicy Limoncello Vinaigrette is perfectly framed by the lithe texture of the Laura Aschero’s 2010 Pigato.
With almost 1,000 selections, the wine list is broad and progressive, featuring venerable producers from Piedmont and Tuscany, as well as more esoteric wines from Etna’s volcanic slopes.
City: Las Vegas
Address: ‘The Beef Cheek Ravioli with Black Truffle, Crushed Duck Livers and Browned Butter is decadently rich, deeply flavored and unctuous, and is best paired with Zyme’s 2007 Valpolicella Classico Superiore.’
Phone: (404) 365 0410
Modern American cuisine, with an emphasis on wine pairings with every dish (available in half-glass or full-glass pours).
Read a Q&A with David A. Carson, chef de cuisine of Bacchanalia.
Wine list: The wine list focuses on California wineries, ranging from the mainstream to niche producers.
Perfect pair: Jermann’s 2009 Pinot Grigio from Venezia Giulia paired with Kumamoto Oysters, Cauliflower Panna Cotta, Caviar and Sourdough Croutons.
Riot worthy: The Crab Fritter with Thai Pepper Essence and Avocado has been a mainstay on the menu for 19 years.
Destination bottle: Colgin 1997 Herb Lamb Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley)
5 vintages of J. Rochioli East Block Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley)
Related links: Posh Pinot Grigio
Russian River Valley Pinot Noir: The Triumph of Terroir
Barcelona Wine Bar & Restaurant
Phone: (203) 983-6400
The cuisine is clean and rustic, with tapas shaped by Mediterranean, Spanish and South American influence.
Wine list: Nearly 400 wines are featured on the list, with 60% from Spain and 15% from South America, and the remainder from France, Italy, Greece, Germany, Austria, United States and Australia. The focus is predominantly on small, artisanal producers.
Perfect pair: Barcelona offers a “Sherry pairing” tapa. Currently, the Pedro Romero Amontillado is on offer.
Riot worthy: ‘The Italian-inspired Chicken al Pimientos, prepared with a South American spin. We have regulars that come in three-to-four days a week only to eat this one dish.”
Destination bottle: Marqués de Murrieta 1978 Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial (Rioja)
Bodegas Carrau 2000 Vilasar Nebbiolo (Las Violetas)
Related links: Travel Barcelona
Tips for Throwing a Tapas Fiesta
Phone: (503) 841-6968
Seasonally driven, French-inspired cuisine with a menu that changes weekly.
Naomi Pomeroy, chef/owner of BEAST, also specializes in roasted pig, which makes for a playful wine pairings. Read more about her pet project.
Wine list: “Wine here is an echo to the flavors,” Says Naomi Pomeroy, chef/owner. The wine list highlights the regional uniqueness of the Old World landscape, focusing on organic, sustainable and biodynamic producers.
Perfect pair: Shaved Belgian Endive, Breakfast Radish and Citrus Salad with Pine-Cured First Run Sockeye Salmon, Tarragon & Horseradish Crème Vinaigrette, paired with Nigl’s 2009 Senftenberger Piri Grüner Veltliner. Another great pairing is the Trinity Ridge Farms Duck Breast with Wilted Bloomsdale Spinach,Hierloom Red Kuri Squash and Pickled Sultanas Duck and Veal Demi-Glace, with Domaine Montrieux’s 2008 Le Verre des Poètes Pineau d’Aunis.
Riot worthy: ‘Foie-Gras Bon-Bon with Sauternes Gelée.’
Destination bottle: Clos Cibonne 2009 Tibouren Cuvée Spéciale des Vignettes Rosé (Côtes de Provence)
Thierry Allemand 2007 Renard (Cornas)
Catena Zapata 2007 Nicasia Vineyard Malbec (Mendoza)
Related links: The Wine Roads of Oregon
Three Ultimate Chenin Blanc and Food Pairings
Additional info: Pig Roasts
Bern’s Steak House
Phone: (813) 251-2421
“Wine is the cornerstone to our traditional steak fare, influenced by European cooking traditions,” says Eric Renaud, senior sommelier.
Wine list: Housing nearly 1 million bottles in their collection, the wine list is inarguably deep, with the greatest selections coming from France and California.
Perfect pair: The perfect wine and food pairing is great company.
Riot worthy: “It’s all in the name: Steak.” The Macadamia Nut Ice Cream is another signature dish.
Destination bottle: Château Latour 1947 Latour — Jeroboam
Quinta de Serrado 1827 Bual (Madeira)
Château Gruaud Larose 1851 Saint-Julien, Magnum
Related links: The Pen is Mightier than the Pour
Pairings: Steak with Béarnaise Sauce
Birch & Barley
Phone: (202) 567-2576
In addition to the à la carte menu of season- and farm-driven dishes, a five-course tasting menu is offered nightly, with each course uniquely paired with a particular craft beer. Birch & Barley also partners with brewers for weekly tastings, rare cask tastings and beer dinners.
Wine list: With 555 artisanal craft-brewed beers, Birch & Barley is renowned for its beer cellar. A craft-driven whiskey list, original cocktails and a focused, excellent wine list are also offered.
Related links: Beer Goes Green
Craft Beet Goes Boom
Phone: (312) 715-0708
Creative, contemporary cuisine driven by the season.
Wine list: The wine program slants French and American, with an emphasis on small artisan producers—mirroring the farm-to-table approach in the kitchen.
Perfect pair: A perfect pairing is Suckling Pig and Rie
Riot worthy: ‘The Endive Salad served in a crispy potato basket with the appearance of a bird’s nest, the one dish on the restaurant’s menu since day one.’
Related links: Seven Vineyards Worth the Journey
Confit of Tuna with Onion Confit, Endive Salad, and Sauce Verte
Blue Hill at Stone Barns
Phone: (914) 366-9600
With a menu driven by ingredients sourced from the field and pasture, the wines are selected to support, harmonize and highlight the seasonal products.
Wine list: The wines are mostly transparent, showing little to no oak, and are representative of time and place.
Perfect pair: Biochar Cabbage with American Caviar Sauce paired with Albert Boxler’s 2008 Brand Grand Cru Muscat from Alsace.
Riot worthy: ‘Using a technique called biochar cooking on its state-of-the-art Grillery grill, Blue Hill at Stone Barns coaxes magical flavors from simple ingredients like cabbages and onions.’
Related links: Chef Dan Barber On His Favorite Ingredient: Eggs
City: New York City
Phone: (212) 791-3771
The Kaiseki cuisine at brushstroke is extremely delicate, with carefully selected wines adding another dimension to the culinary experience.
Wine list: The Kaiseki cuisine at brushstroke is extremely delicate, with carefully selected wines adding another dimension to the culinary experience.
Perfect pair: Sea Urchin with Dashi Gelée and Yuzu Citrus Cream Sauce paired with La Ferme de la Sansonnière’s 2009 Les Fouchardes from the Loire Valley.
Riot worthy: ‘Steamed Chawanmushi with Egg Custard, Black Truffle and Dungeness Crab.’
Related links: Superb Saké Programs
Dungeness Crab Salad with Roasted Beets and Arugula
City: New York City
Phone: (206) 283-3313
Ingredient-inspired Northwest cuisine.
Wine list: The balanced wine list focuses on classic growing regions, iconic brands and up-and-coming producers of Washington, California, France, Italy and Spain. “We pair wines based on seasonality, provenance and occasion; what the guest is celebrating and what they’ve ordered greatly influences the wines we select for them,” says Nelson Daquip, wine director.
Perfect pair: The whole roasted Muscovy Duck is beautifully balanced by the bright red fruits, savory notes and earthy tones of truffles and leather in a bottle of red Burgundy with a bit of age on it.
Riot worthy: The dry-aged, Muscovy Duck for two is a “forever” dish. It’s accompaniments are always changing with the seasons.
Destination bottle: Didier Dagueneau 2003 Astéroïde (Pouilly-Fumé)
Buty 2006 Peter Canlis Syrah (Walla Walla Valley)
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 1990 La Tâche, Magnum
Related links: Isn’t It Aromatic?
Beyond Classic Cocktails
Phone: (410) 332-7373
Low Country cooking rooted in classic French techniques.
Wine list: The wine program offers more than 800 selections from around the globe. “The wines are selected for many reasons: hedonistic pleasure, intellectual interest, price/value relationship and seasonal menu changes, among other considerations,” says Tony Foreman, wine director.
Perfect pair: The tasting menu format allows for each dish to be paired with an appropriate wine.
Riot worthy: ‘The signature dish is Cornmeal-Fried Oysters with Lemon-Cayenne Mayonnaise and Upland Cress.’
Destination bottle: E. Guigal 1998 La Landonne (Côte-Rôtie)
Beaux Frères 2007 Beaux Frères Vineyard Pinot Noir (Ribbon Ridge)
Château Latour 1975 (Pauillac)
Related links: Pairings: Oysters Galore
Breaded Pork Cutlets with Arugula and Capers
Phone: (843) 577-4522
The cuisine is Southern-inspired. “Sometimes we fall in love with a wine, and the chef will create a dish for the match,” says Rick Rubel, sommelier.
Wine list: The wine list is comprised of 1,300 wines from around the world, with an affinity for red Burgundy.
Perfect pair: E. Guigal’s 1998 Hermitage Blanc harmonizes with butter-poached Maine lobster, served with black trumpets, celery-root purée, caviar and mushroom jus.
Riot worthy: ‘The Charleston Grill Crab Cake. “Perhaps the planet’s best,” says Rubel.’
Destination bottle: Remoissenet Père & Fils 1985 Charmes-Chambertin
Related links: Hospices Recipes
Destination: Charleston, South Carolina