Aug 31, 2011
Those of us who lived through it can only shake our heads in amazement at how much restaurant wine programs have changed over the past three decades. In 1981, sommeliers dressed in forbidding, dark uniforms. Ordering a fine wine was a statement of class, not of taste. That year, Wine Spectator initiated its Grand Award to recognize restaurants with extraordinary wine lists. Only 13 across the country made the grade. One winner had just 300 selections; nine of the winners topped out at 500 wines or fewer. Wine Spectator's Harvey Steiman explains.