11 Wine-Centric Canadian Restaurants

Old World classics meet exciting local labels on these standout wine lists
11 Wine-Centric Canadian Restaurants
Grand Award winner Post Hotel Dining Room houses an impressive collection of 26,000 bottles. (Michael Soroka)
Apr 25, 2019

Like most places with a history of converging cultures, Canada boasts a vibrant culinary landscape. Today’s Canadian restaurants honor those foundational influences (primarily English and French) and utilize the local bounty to create distinct, dynamic cuisine. Many destinations also celebrate the country’s renowned wine regions, like these 11 Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winners. From Old World classics to diverse local selections, you’ll find what you’re looking for on these carefully curated lists.

To check out more wine-and-food destinations around the world, see Wine Spectator’s nearly 3,800 Restaurant Award–winning picks, including the 100 Grand Award recipients worldwide that hold our highest honor.

Do you have a favorite you’d like to see on this list? Send your recommendations to restaurantawards@mshanken.com. We want to hear from you!


Angus McRitchie
Le Coureur des Bois’ dishes showcase regional fare with a modern twist.

LE COUREUR DES BOIS
A growing leader in Québec’s wine scene
Hôtel Rive Gauche, 1810 Rue Richelieu, Beloeil, QC, Canada
(450) 467-4477
www.hotelrivegauche.ca
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Grand Award
Wine list selections 3,500
Inventory 18,500
Wine strengths Wine director Ian Purtell’s comprehensive program is sure to delight Burgundy lovers, with 12 pages of the region’s white wines and 20 pages of reds. The list also shows extraordinary depth in Burgundy and additional strengths in California, Italy, the Rhône, Spain, Canada and the Loire.
Enophile owner Mathieu Duguay, owner of Hôtel Rive Gauche, continues to expand and improve the boutique property. He’s made wine the focus of that mission, adding two sommeliers to the team and 3,500 bottles to the cellar since the restaurant earned its first Grand Award in 2018.
Global approach There’s much to discover on the international list. In addition to the world’s classic wine regions, you’ll find a healthy selection of bottles from South Africa, Lebanon, Greece, Hungary and more.
Cuisine In the Canadian-rustic dining room, chef Jean-Sébastien Giguère serves a regional menu that’s inspired and moderately priced. The dishes highlight ingredients sourced locally or made on site, like an appetizer of delicata squash with house-made ricotta and a main course of giant oyster served with smoked pork from Québec’s Turlo Farm.


Opus Restaurant on Prince Arthur
Opus Restaurant on Prince Arthur is home to Canada’s largest Restaurant Award–winning wine collection.

OPUS RESTAURANT ON PRINCE ARTHUR
A strong wine list supported by a massive cellar
37 Prince Arthur Ave., Toronto, ON, Canada
(416) 921-3105
www.opusrestaurant.com
Open for dinner, daily

Grand Award
Wine list selections 2,100
Inventory 52,000
Wine-driven mission Once brothers Tony and Mario Amaro opened the restaurant in 1992, they quickly achieved their goal of making it a wine lover's destination. Opus earned its first Restaurant Award in 1996, a Best of Award of Excellence, until it was promoted to Grand Award in 2002.
Wine strengths Tony serves as wine director, overseeing the largest inventory of any Restaurant Award winner in Canada. Bordeaux and Burgundy are the program’s strongest regions, followed by California, the Rhône, Italy (especially Tuscany), Australia, Spain and Portugal. A page of local Ontario labels complements the cuisine’s continental focus.
Bordeaux benchmarks The region’s biggest names are well-represented on the French-heavy wine list. Highlights include 13 vintages of Château Haut-Brion, 18 vintages of Pétrus and a 14-vintage vertical of Château Latour featuring various large-format options.
Cuisine Canada-born chef Jason Cox has helmed the kitchen for 18 years. Cox keeps things fresh with inventive seasonal dishes that draw on a range of culinary styles, like confit celeriac and rabbit with black truffle and pickles, black pepper–crusted tuna loin on shredded vegetables with green onion–beurre blanc, and French onion ravioli.


Allan Rosenberg
Post Hotel Dining Room’s dishes, like Alberta bison tenderloin, are based on local ingredients.

POST HOTEL DINING ROOM
A wine restaurant inspired by the Swiss Alps
Post Hotel & Spa, 200 Piperstone Road, Lake Louise, AB, Canada
(800) 661-1586
www.posthotel.com/cuisine/dining
Open for lunch and dinner, daily; closed Oct. 14 to Nov. 27, 2019

Grand Award
Wine list selections 2,545
Inventory 26,000
Backed by brothers George and André Schwarz took over the property in 1978, which was opened in 1942 and inspired by the Swiss Alps. The wine program has been a longtime passion project for George, who serves as wine director and proudly secured more than 95 percent of the bottles at release. His son, Michael Schwarz, is now the restaurant’s general manager.
Wine strengths George has been dedicated to maintaining the wine program for more than 40 years, and the result is a wildly impressive collection of international labels. The biggest standouts are California, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Italy, the Rhône, Australia and Champagne. You’ll also find more than 200 magnums and extensive dessert wine selections.
Gathering the greats Post Hotel Dining Room hosts many distinguished guests for its special dinner series. In the past, the team has welcomed winemakers from Caymus, Gaja, Joseph Phelps and Château Palmer.
Cuisine The Swiss influence is evident through chef Hans Sauter’s regional, seasonal menu. Sauter tends to incorporate wine into the dishes themselves; for example, a Port and truffle sauce accompanies the beef tenderloin, and a Marsala jus is served with the bison.


Via Allegro Ristorante
Via Allegro Ristorante is home to the largest wine list of any Restaurant Award winner in Canada.

VIA ALLEGRO RISTORANTE
Bringing Italian wine treasures to Toronto
1750 The Queensway W., Etobicoke, ON, Canada
(416) 622-6677
www.viaallegroristorante.com
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Grand Award
Wine list selections 5,430
Inventory 50,000
Wine strengths Fans of Italian wine, look no further. Managed by co-owner and wine director Ivano Scarlato, the Grand Award–winning list offers more than 950 selections from Tuscany alone, with eye-popping verticals from Tenuta dell'Ornellaia and Antinori. The Piedmont picks are similarly robust, rounded out by selections from around the boot. The program also excels in Bordeaux, California, the Rhône, Burgundy, Australia, Port and Canada.
Professional picks It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the extensive selections, but several sections at the start of the wine list are designed to help. There are six pages of “Sommelier Selections,” two pages of international “Gems” and a portion labeled “Wines of Interest Under $70.”
Cuisine Chef Marco Zandona’s Italian menu blends traditional techniques with contemporary creativity. Familiar dishes get a modern twist, like a beef carpaccio served with lemon mascarpone–aioli, a pizza topped with prosciutto crudo and candied orange, and a risotto made with duck confit.
Stunning cellar The centerpiece of the dining room is a glass-enclosed cellar housing 20,000 bottles. The remaining 30,000 bottles are stored in 15 freestanding temperature-controlled units throughout the space, so diners are never far from a glance at the spectacular collection.


Champlain
Champlain boasts an illuminated display of its 12,000-bottle inventory.

CHAMPLAIN
World-class wine within the walls of Old Québec
The Fairmont Château Frontenac, 1 Rue des Carrières, Québec City, QC, Canada
(418) 692-3861
www.fairmont.com/frontenac-quebec/dining/champlain/
Open for dinner, Tuesday to Saturday

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 630
Inventory 12,000
Longstanding landmark Champlain is located in the Fairmont Château Frontenac, a luxurious destination in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Old Québec. The château celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2018 and has been visited cultural icons like Alfred Hitchcock to royalty like King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and Princess Grace of Monaco.
Wine strengths On wine director Zsombor Mezey’s list, you’ll find exceptional picks from France (especially Bordeaux), California and Italy, plus Canadian producers CheckMate Artisanal Winery and Painted Rock.
Pick your price point While there’s plenty to splurge on here, like Bordeaux gems for tens of thousands of dollars, value-seeking wine lovers won’t feel alienated. The list is peppered with labels for $100 or less, and 30 selections are available by the glass.
Cuisine Drawing from his birthplace of southern France and his international travels, chef Stéphane Modat presents a modern menu that contrasts the historic setting and complements the diverse wine list. Through regional dishes like deer tartare and herb-crusted cod, Modat invites guests to discover today’s Canadian cuisine.


Steve Li
The private wine room at CinCin shows off some of the 8,000-bottle inventory.

CINCIN RISTORANTE + BAR
An Italian eatery for contemporary fare and fine wine
1154 Robson St., Vancouver, BC, Canada
(604) 688-7338
www.cincin.net
Open for dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 1,300
Inventory 8,000
Cuisine Chef Andrew Richardson serves a modern Italian menu with a focus on local ingredients and open-flame cooking. His à-la-carte dishes include twice-cooked parmesan soufflé, whole grilled branzino, Alberta lamb rack with polenta, and various hand-made pastas.
Wine strengths The program naturally leans toward Italy, excelling in Tuscany and Piedmont, but you’ll find strong selections from Canada and California too. Wine director Shane Taylor updates the list on a daily basis to provide guests with the most current information possible.
Depth in Italy Taylor invites guests to delve into the world of Italian wine with multiple vintages of labels from around the country. While the list is constantly changing, examples include seven vintages of Gaja Langhe Conteisa and eight vintages of Giuseppe Cortese Barbaresco Rabajà.
Popular spot CinCin sits just west of downtown Vancouver on the buzzy Robson Street, with easy access to attractions like the Vancouver Art Gallery and Rogers Arena.


Jennifer Houghton
Langdon Hall serves delicate French dishes on its à-la-carte menu.

LANGDON HALL
A destination more than 120 years in the making
Langdon Hall Country House Hotel & Spa, 1 Langdon Drive, Cambridge, ON, Canada
(800) 268-1898
www.langdonhall.ca
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 1,575
Inventory 18,700
Longtime wine hub Langdon Hall was built in 1902 on land that Eugene Langdon Wilks purchased in 1898. It’s now a Relais & Châteaux hotel that’s grown to include 75 acres of protected nature. The property’s connection to wine can be traced back to Eugene and his wife, Pauline, who also owned a château in France's Loire Valley and were enthusiastic collectors of wines from that region and beyond.
Cuisine Chef Jason Bangerter showcases Canadian ingredients through a French lens. Dine on signature items like cauliflower purée with preserved grapes, toasted hazelnuts and brassicas, beef short rib with rutabaga fondant, and butter-roasted young chicken with smoked parsnip.
Wine strengths Wine director Faye MacLachlan works closely with Bangerter to develop selections that complement the cuisine and reflect the mission of presenting a sense of place. The list excels in France (especially Burgundy, the Rhône and Bordeaux), Italy, California, Canada and Australia. Among the extensive offerings are familiar favorites as well as lesser-known picks, which MacLachlan encourages guests to inquire about.
Personal touch The start of each section contains a brief introduction to each member of the sommelier team. The blurbs cover everything from favorite regions to overall philosophies.


Laurie Raphaël
Laurie Raphaël serves regional cuisine in a sleek dining room.

LAURIE RAPHAËL
Family-fueled fine dining
117 Rue Dalhousie, Québec City, QC, Canada
(418) 692-4555
www.laurieraphael.com
Open for dinner, Tuesday to Saturday

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 560
Inventory 3,600
Built on tradition Chef Daniel Vézina is a local culinary figure with seven published cookbooks and appearances on various cooking television shows. He opened the original Laurie Raphaël in 1991 with his wife, Suzanne Gagnon. The restaurant has since relocated to the historic neighborhood of Old Québec.
Continuing tradition Daniel and Suzanne’s children and the inspiration behind the restaurant’s name, Laurie-Alex Vézina and Raphaël Vézina, are now co-owners. Rapaël has also taken over the kitchen.
Wine strengths Lead by wine director Samuel Blanchard, the program highlights France, with moderately priced labels from the country’s top regions and plenty of Burgundy grands crus. Various styles of Canadian wines are showcased as well.
Cuisine Choose from either a seven-course menu for $83 or an 11-course menu for $117. The regional dishes are grouped into five themes, such as "The Season's Mark" and "Heritage and Traditions." The seven-course menu lets diners pick three themes, while the 11-course one includes all five. Various levels of wine pairings are available and range from $60 to $90.


Kyler Vos
Housed in a Relais & Châteaux property, the Pointe Restaurant presents a hyper-local menu and a well-rounded wine list.

THE POINTE RESTAURANT
The realization of a long-held dream
Wickaninnish Inn, 500 Osprey Lane, Chesterman Beach, Tofino, BC, Canada
(250) 725-3106
www.wickinn.com
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 665
Inventory 7,125
Ongoing legacy When Howard McDiarmid moved to the British Columbia peninsula of Tofino in 1955, he fell in love with its natural beauty. He later helped establish the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, a project that included converting the original Wickaninnish Inn into a marine interpretive center. McDiarmid dreamed of reviving the property one day, and his family fulfilled that vision in 1996, when they opened the new Wickaninnish Inn along with the Pointe Restaurant.
Cuisine The dining room features panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, a focal point of the regional Canadian cuisine. Chef Carmen Ingham sources seafood from coastal fishermen and other nearby purveyors to create everything from light and fresh appetizers to hearty mains and luxurious add-ons like caviar service.
Wine strengths The inn’s food-and-beverage director, Ike Seaman, manages the wine program. France makes up the bulk of the list, which also shows strength in Canada, California and Italy. The domestic picks show off the diversity of Canadian wine styles, from sparklers and Rieslings to Merlots, Cabernet Sauvignons and ice wines.
Stepped-up cellar A recent cellar renovation increased the restaurant’s bottle capacity by 3,200, and the wines are now showcased through a glass-enclosed unit. Once it’s fully completed, the space will also feature a long, cedar table for wine-focused events.


River Café
The culinary team at River Café serves a menu that celebrates Canada’s bounty.

RIVER CAFÉ
A locally focused café with close ties to the region
Prince’s Island Park, Calgary, AB, Canada
(403) 261-7670
www.river-cafe.com
Open for lunch and dinner, daily; reopening May 1, 2019

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 500
Inventory 6,000
Environmental initiatives River Café sits right on the bank of Bow River in Prince’s Island Park. The restaurant honors its close connection to nature by using hand-picked ingredients from the on-site garden and sustainably sourcing seafood with guidance from the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise Seafood Program. This earth-friendly mission is also reflected through the wine list, which highlights winemakers with particularly sustainable practices.
Cuisine The restaurant recently closed for flood-mitigation work, but it will reopen May 1, 2019, with a fresh spring menu from chef Matthias Fong. His regional Canadian fare focuses on wild game and fowl, enhanced by plenty of produce and open-flame cooking.
Wine strengths Canadian labels are the heart of wine director Bruce Soley’s program, showcased through designated sections throughout the list. There are also solid collections of wines from France, California and Italy. A page of “Sommelier Features” points out a few of the wine team’s favorite bottles.
Don’t-miss domestic selections The list echoes River Café’s overall emphasis on Canadian producers, representing regions from Okanagan Valley to the Niagara Peninsula and Prince Edward County.


Chris Saunders
Backhouse is a neighborhood spot with reasonably priced tasting menus.

BACKHOUSE
Superior dining in a surprising setting
242 Mary St., Niagara on the Lake, ON, Canada
(289) 272-1242
www.backhouse.xyz
Open for lunch and dinner, Wednesday to Monday; closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays in winter

Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 295
Inventory 1,230
Unexpected location An unembellished strip mall isn't the most likely spot for a restaurant dedicated to fine wines and farm-fresh ingredients, but that's where you'll find Backhouse. As soon as you enter, you'll be transported by the rustic-chic dining room that sets the tone for the high-caliber experience to come.
Cuisine There are two ways to experience Ryan Crawford's creative regional cuisine: A standard tasting menu of three courses for $45, or a chef's tasting menu of $75 for 12 courses. Wine pairings are available for an additional $30 or $67, respectively.
Smart sourcing Backhouse highlights local ingredients, using produce delivered daily and meats butchered on site. Both menu options feature the restaurant’s signature sourdough breads baked in a wood-fired oven.
Wine strengths The wine program demonstrates a similar commitment to community, with Canadian selections making up about 70 percent. Wine director Bill Mochoruk packs in some impressive verticals on the carefully curated list, like 13 consecutive vintages of Stratus Red Niagara-on-the-Lake. International selections include standout French picks.


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