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FAQs for Restaurant Awards—New Entries and Renewals

How do I apply for Wine Spectator’s 2020 Restaurant Awards program?

The application window is now closed.

My restaurant earned an award last year. Do I have to apply again?
Each year, all previous award winners are required to resubmit their current wine list, dinner menu and entry fee, as well as an updated listing form and cover letter.

All 2019 winners will be emailed on Dec. 3, 2019. From there, restaurants will be able to update their application information and pay their entry fee. You can also start the process here.

This email will be sent to the most current contact we have on file. If you did not receive this email by Dec. 8, 2019, please email us at

When is the deadline to submit an application?
All applications must be postmarked by Monday, Feb. 14, 2020.

What is the entry fee?
Applications submitted Dec. 3, 2019 through Dec. 31, 2019 (11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time) will benefit from an “early-bird” entry fee of $375. For applications received Jan. 1, 2020, through Feb. 14, 2020, the entry fee will be $475. You will be able to pay online by credit card, or you can submit a check with your application made payable to M. Shanken Communications.

Are private clubs, cruise lines, and stadiums eligible?
Entrance is limited to restaurants open to the public as of the program’s deadline on Feb. 14; entries from private clubs are not eligible. All-inclusive resorts, cruise lines, and publicly accessible restaurants located in stadiums are eligible.

My restaurant is located outside the United States. Can I apply?
Yes, we currently have award winners from more than 50 different countries.

How can I find out if my application has been received?
With more than 4,000 applications submitted each year, we cannot reply to phone calls or e-mails requesting confirmation of received materials. Please confirm the delivery of your application through your shipper. Once your application has been processed and is complete, we will send a confirmation e-mail.

Do I need to include a cover letter?
Yes, even if you are renewing, you must submit a one-page cover letter on your restaurant letterhead describing your storage conditions, inventory, pricing and any other information you feel is relevant to your wine program. This cover letter must be in English and include a phone number and e-mail.

My wine list is presented on an iPad. How should I submit it for review?
Any restaurant that uses an iPad or other tablet will need to submit a printed copy of all the wines as they appear on the tablet. This printout must include winery and wine names, appellations, vintages and prices. This list does not need to be formatted, but applicants should also include a few screen shots as examples of the device’s presentation.

If my wine list is in a binder, do I need to include that as well?
It is not necessary to include a binder or other cover with your wine list. Sending your list unbound will save on your postage and will help us process your materials more quickly.

I have more than one restaurant with the same wine list. Do I need to enter them separately?
Yes, entries for each restaurant must be submitted under separate cover letters, with their own set of materials and an entry fee for each. One set of materials submitted for several restaurants will not be accepted.

Should I include copies of my lunch menu, press clippings or anything else?
No, only your wine list, dinner menu, cover letter, listing form and entry fee are required. Other materials are not reviewed by the judges and should not be sent.

Can I submit a headshot or photos of my restaurant?
Yes. You now have the option during the online stage of the application process to upload a headshot of the restaurant’s wine director or sommelier as well as three images of the restaurant. Please have your digital photo(s) ready before you start the online portion of the renewal application.

If my restaurant wins an award, how will I be notified?
All award winners will be notified by e-mail in May, and then listed in the Aug. 31 issue of Wine Spectator. Our website's Restaurant Search database will be updated with the new winners when the Aug. 31 issue is made public. Award certificates are mailed in July.

Where can I—and diners—find our Restaurant Award winners?

  • Wine Spectator’s new mobile-friendly Restaurant Awards website,, is dedicated to showcasing our award winners. Search for or browse restaurants by geographic area, cuisine or wine strengths and get a glimpse into their programs with information on wine specialties, selection and inventory counts, pricing information, names of staff members and links to websites and wine lists, if available. Read profiles on the most recent Grand Award winners. Peruse Sommelier Talks, Chef Talks, Restaurant Roundups and restaurant-related news for a more in-depth look at what these programs have to offer.

  • Wine Spectator’s free iOS Restaurant Awards app points users to our winners. The app locates award winners near a user’s location and also allows users to look up the perfect dining spot in any city, state or country, choosing by wine strengths, cuisine type, pricing and more. Each restaurant’s profile page provides details on the wine, cuisine and people, with reservation numbers and directions available at the touch of a button.

  • Wine Spectator’s new Private Guide to Dining e-mail newsletter focuses on Restaurant Award winners and dining destinations with extensive wine programs. Featuring dining guides, sommelier interviews, restaurant wine picks, food-and-beverage trends, new restaurant openings and staff changes, the e-letter is free and sent twice-monthly.

  • Find a complete list of each year's award winners in the Dining Guide of the Aug. 31 issue of Wine Spectator (see the 2019 issue here), as well as detailed profiles and images of each of the year’s new Grand Award winners.

How do I get extra copies of the Aug. 31 issue of Wine Spectator that includes the complete listing of all the Restaurant Awards winners?
You can always order back copies of recent issues online. Order copies or digital editions of the Aug. 31, 2019 issue of Wine Spectator here (available on newsstands July 16).

Or for bulk orders of five or more copies of any Aug. 31 issues of Wine Spectator, available back through 2006, email or call 800-344-0763.

Still have questions?

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