Never has there been a more exciting time for restaurant wine programs. From exotic destinations to neighborhood bistros, restaurants rely on wine as a critical factor in crafting their identities. Whether choosing from a 100-selection list focused on small producers or a vast collection of the world’s benchmark wines, wine lovers have never had it this easy to drink well.
Proof of this is found in our newly revealed list of nearly 3,800 restaurants that have earned awards from Wine Spectator in 2019. This year's winning restaurants, each offering outstanding wine programs, hail from all 50 states and 79 countries and territories. The awards are given across three categories: Award of Excellence, Best of Award of Excellence and Grand Award.
“It’s always an honor to be recognized for all of the hard work and thought we put into our list,” said Samantha Welch, wine director of Acre, a Best of Award of Excellence winner in Auburn, Ala. “We are trying really hard to put Alabama on top as a culinary destination, and having Wine Spectator categorize us in the group of the best wine lists in the country makes it feel like we are doing our part.”
Even in well-established culinary destinations like New York City, the awards serve as validation for a job well done. “Living in one of the best cities on this planet, it means a great deal that the work I do every day is recognized on a world scale,” said Carrie-Lyn Strong, wine director of Casa Lever, a Best of Award of Excellence winner in Manhattan. “Receiving a Wine Spectator award allows me to prove to myself, my family, my friends and my peers year after year that I'm conquering my dream as a top sommelier in one of the best cities in the world!”
The Award of Excellence recognizes restaurants whose wine lists feature a well-chosen assortment of quality producers along with a thematic match to the menu in both price and style. Ranging in size from 90 selections to several hundred, these lists are well-focused and tend to emphasize discovery. This year 2,447 restaurants achieved the Award of Excellence.
The Best of Award of Excellence, granted to 1,244 restaurants in 2019, honors wine programs that take their commitment a step further; it recognizes lists that display excellent breadth across multiple regions and/or significant vertical depth of top wines, along with superior presentation.
The Grand Award, the program’s highest honor, is the ultimate recognition for restaurants with world-class wine programs. This sought-after award is presented to restaurants that show uncompromising, passionate devotion to the quality of their wine program. These wine lists, which typically have 1,000 or more selections, deliver serious breadth of top producers and outstanding depth in mature vintages, in addition to selections of large-format bottles. Along with superior presentation of the wine list and its excellent harmony with the menu, these restaurants offer the highest level of wine service. Wine Spectator inspects all candidates for the Grand Award to evaluate the overall dining experience and cellar.
Eight restaurants have earned Wine Spectator’s Grand Award for the first time in 2019. The new winners join an exclusive group that now totals 100 Grand Award winners located throughout the world. These 2019 Grand Award winners are:
- Alfredo di Roma Mexico in Mexico City
- Fiola in Washington, D.C.
- Griggeler Stuba in Lech am Arlberg, Austria
- Mastro’s Steakhouse at the Post Oak in Houston
- Pappas Bros. Steakhouse Downtown Houston in Houston
- The Pool in New York City
- Ristorante Cracco in Milan
- Vantre in Paris
To find more great dining spots for enjoying wine, go to Restaurants.WineSpectator.com, which features all of Wine Spectator’s 2019 Restaurant Award winners in a free database searchable by location, cuisine type, wine strengths, pricing and award level. To access restaurant recommendations on the go, try Wine Spectator’s Restaurant Awards app, available free in the App Store. All award winners are featured in the Aug. 31 issue of Wine Spectator, which also looks at how restaurants serve their communities beyond food and wine.
Throughout the year, keep on top of restaurant-related news and trends and learn more about the Restaurant Award winners in Q&As with leading sommeliers, chefs and restaurateurs, as well as in roundups of exciting restaurants in different categories, from restaurants with super-value wine lists to bucket-list destinations. Sign up for our free Private Guide to Dining email newsletter so you don't miss anything!