What would a great restaurant be without a stellar wine list to pair its dishes with? Interest in wine, especially more unusual varietals and vineyards, has skyrocketed lately, and sommeliers are in high demand. Gone are the old rules about what you can serve when, as this crop of restaurants shows—these spots have some of the most exciting, innovative wine lists out there.
Italian food might not be the first thing you think of when you consider Miami’s restaurant scene, but Macchialina wants to change that. House-made pasta, sauces, and rustic specialties like veal Milanese share the menu with an impressive wine list that highlights offerings from lesser-known regions of Italy like Sicily and Puglia. “Our wine program prides itself on our selection of all-Italian wines sourced from estate-grown grapes and boutique growers, many hard to find,” says managing partner/beverage director Jacqueline Pirolo.
There’s nothing more classic than the pairing of steak and a great glass of wine, but STAKE in San Diego seeks to go above and beyond with their list, helmed by Teddy Panos, a chef-turned-somm with a fine dining background. The wine list comprises more than 2,000 bottles from around the globe, with classic selections from Bordeaux and Burgundy, but also from lesser-known areas like Lebanon, and Panos uses his extensive food knowledge to create unique, perfect pairings. He’s done such a good job, in fact, that STAKE has been awarded Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence, making this restaurant a must for any SoCal wine enthusiasts.
Multiple locations, California
It’s clear that CUCINA loves wine: a huge array of options line many of the walls in their five restaurants, and each location regularly holds wine-focused dinners featuring top producers. But CUCINA isn’t content to simply pour a glass for guests as they eat, which is why they also have a retail program, regular wine education events, and a wine delivery program that brings their thoughtful selections right to your door. (Assuming you live in California, that is.) CUCINA’s dedication to expanding people palates is undoubtedly appreciated by everyone who’s lucky enough to cross their path.
Located on Chicago’s North Side, Income Tax is bringing amazing European food—and wine, of course—to a neighborhood often overlooked by foodies. But the new restaurant hasn’t gone unnoticed by the media: it’s been featured in Bon Appétit, Condé Nast Traveler, and more, and was also awarded the Chicago Reader’s “Best Wine List” award in 2017. With a list that straddles the line between classic and trendy, including an exciting selection of sherries and vermouths, there’s guaranteed to be something for everyone, whether you’re looking for an old favorite or something new to explore.
There’s nowhere in the United States more celebrated for its wine than Napa Valley, and it’s only natural that amazing restaurants have sprung up beside the acres of vineyards. Acacia House, from “Top Chef” alum Chris Cosentino, is one of those restaurants, which pairs Cosentino’s ever-changing, seasonal menu with sommelier Zoe Hankins’ inspired pairings for one of Napa’s most delicious experiences. Acacia House’s 28-page list is weighted heavily toward Napa wines, of course, but also includes selections from nearby Sonoma, as well as a curated selection of French bottles. The number of varietals showcased guarantees that no matter what you order for dinner, Hankins will always be able to find you the perfect glass to drink alongside it.
Charleston, South Carolina
Inside one of Charleston’s oldest homes, you’ll find one of its newest restaurants. The Establishment, located in the James Gregorie House, is a seafood-focused project from chef Matt Canter. The old adage about not drinking red wine with fish? Forget that. The Establishment’s bottle list is designed specifically to pair with seafood dishes, from the shrimp with marinated vegetables and tarragon, to the grouper baked in olive oil and served with castelvetrano olives, and includes plenty of exciting reds. The dining room’s 20-foot-tall glass wine cellar, which stores up to 3,000 bottles, leaves no doubt in diners’ minds that this restaurant has some solidly established drinking credentials.