Wine can play an integral part of the dining experience. Each year, Wine Enthusiast showcases the restaurants and establishments that are excelling with unrivaled programs. The much-anticipated annual list of America’s Best Wine Restaurants’ was unveiled June 13.
“Our ‘America’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants’ list is one of my favorite packages we release each year,” Susan Kostrzewa, executive editor of Wine Enthusiast, said in a statement. “It’s filled with excitement and promise as we are truly in the midst of an energetic and creative time in wine and dining. From exceptional, innovative wine lists to truly progressive cuisine, the talented chefs, sommeliers and beverage directors across the U.S. continue to amaze me and exceed my expectations year after year.”
From outstanding curated wine lists to unique dining experiences, these are the best wine restaurants in the country.
The San Jose establishment not only specializes in Portuguese cuisine, but also Portuguese wine. With 500 Portuguese wines on the wine list, guests are able to find the perfect pairing whether they’re feasting on Salada de Polvo (Octopus salad with roasted red pepper sauce and a spring mix salad) or Bife à Portuguesa (Ribeye with fried potatoes and Iberico ham steak sauce).
Brennan’s has been serving classic Creole cuisine since 1946. The wine program, which is led by women, reflects recent trends including the natural wine movement. “I’m most excited about small production and independent growers becoming more important on wine lists,” Brennan's wine director Braithe Tidwell (pictured above) told Wine Enthusiast.
In the heart of Napa wine country, The Charter Oak draws in locals with its neighborhood feel. The restaurant organizes the valley’s AVAs (American Viticultural Area) to show guests the story of the wine and exactly where in Napa it came from.
“I am excited to see interest in the story behind each wine, and to provide guests with a holistic look at a wine brand,” David Kasper of The Charter Oak, told Wine Enthusiast.
Drinking local takes on a whole new meaning at this Texas restaurant. Cabernet Grill is taking advantage of the booming wine industry in the Lone Star state with a wine list that’s made up of all Texas wine from 45 wineries across the state.
“The Texas wine industry is exploding with growth, with more and more new wineries starting up operations as well as existing wineries vastly expanding their current operations and offerings,” Elizabeth Rodriguez of Cabernet Grill Texas Wine Country Restaurant, told Wine Enthusiast.
At Californios, co-owner and sommelier Charlotte Randolph has complied a wine collection from some of the world’s smallest producers.
“People in our area are concerned with what they consume and where its coming from,” Randolph told Wine Enthusiast. “I love to see the support of smaller local wineries that are friendly to the earth.”
Pizza and wine are a classic pairing. At this new pizzeria, the wine list complements the seasonally-inspired menu. Guests will find a wine list full of natural wines to order along with its Italian offerings.
While there are no specific laws or labeling rules for natural wines, Folk has set its own set of rules for the natural wines on the list.
“These wines are from vineyards farmed and vinified organically; they are low-intervention wines that express their place of origin,” the company said. “Simply put, it is wine made from grape juice and little else. These wines are raw, live and pure—they showcase the winemakers dedication and integrity for the land they farm. They tell their story. They represent our culture.”
With over 1,500 selections and 18,000 bottles, Glitretind has one of the biggest wine collections in Utah. Located in the Stein Eriksen Lodge, this restaurant has stunning views of Deer Valley that are even better with a glass of wine.
In celebration of regional diversity, Merriman’s wine list is a selection of bottles from small, family-owned wineries. Along with bottles and by-the-glass pouring options, the restaurant recently launched a wine flight program—themed four two-ounce pours—to introduce diners to unfamiliar wines.
With a menu dedicated to using only local ingredients, it’s no surprise that philosophy extends to The Willows Inn’s wine program. The wine list changes seasonally, but the focus on wines from Pacific Northwest remains the same year-round.
“I am so inspired by the first generation winemakers in this growing region [Pacific Northwest],” Thea Cabreros of The Willows Inn on Lummi Island told Wine Enthusiast. “They experiment, they play, they do what they want—it’s awesome.”
This year newcomers like Niche Niche and Racines in New York, New York; Theodore Rex in Houston, Texas; and Folk in Nashville, Tennessee, join veterans like Atelier Crenn in San Francisco, California and Oriole in Chicago, Illinois. To see the whole list visit here.