Restaurants were put to the test this year. Many were forced to pivot, reinvent or reimagine their business entirely. Some were unable to endure. But the owners of those who did are now grateful for the opportunity to do what they do best again: offer great food, wine and memories.
Despite the challenges, more than 2,900 restaurants have earned Restaurant Awards from Wine Spectator in 2021. Winners represent all 50 states and 72 countries and territories. The awards are given across three categories: Award of Excellence, Best of Award of Excellence and Grand Award.
"Winning a Restaurant Award from Wine Spectator means that you are in the company of the world's greatest beverage programs," said Zachary Kameron, wine director of new Best of Award of Excellence winner Peak in New York. "For me personally, it means validation for all of the overnights, marathon stocking sessions, tirelessly poring over distributor inventories and offerings, and all of the other efforts that go into putting a wine program together."
The Award of Excellence is given to restaurants with thoughtfully chosen selections appropriate for the cuisine and representative of a range of regions and styles. These lists can vary in size but typically offer 90 options or more. This year 1,673 restaurants earned the Award of Excellence.
The Best of Award of Excellence recognizes wine programs that go a step further. These lists are usually 300 selections or more and offer both vintage depth and regional breadth, with most wine territories represented. A total of 1,141 restaurants achieved the Best of Award of Excellence in 2021.
The Grand Award is the program's highest honor, recognizing world-class wine lists. This award is presented to restaurants that show the utmost dedication to the quality of their wine program. Typically, with 1,000 or more selections, these lists showcase immense depth and breadth of regions, producers, vintages and bottle formats. On top of impeccable presentation and service, all Grand Award winners must also pass a rigorous inspection of their restaurants, including the wine cellars.
Wine Spectator is pleased to award three new restaurants with our Grand Award this year: Brennan's in New Orleans, Le Bernardin in New York and SingleThread Farms in Healdsburg, Calif.
Discover more great places to dine by going to WineSpectator.com's free Restaurant Search tool, which features all of Wine Spectator's 2021 Restaurant Award winners in a 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.
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 value-priced wine lists to bucket-list destinations. Sign up for our free Private Guide to Dining email newsletter so you don't miss the latest in restaurant news.