Representing everything from neighborhood wine bars serving small plates to opulent palaces with star chefs and elaborate tasting menus, the just-revealed 2018 Restaurant Award winners all share one thing—a passion for exploring and sharing the world of wine, whether through eclectic flights with a sense of fun or cellars laden with well-aged gems from Burgundy and Bordeaux.
This year, Wine Spectator is honoring 3,759 restaurants, located in all 50 states and over 75 countries and territories, for having outstanding wine lists. The awards are given across three categories: Award of Excellence, Best of Award of Excellence and Grand Award.
“A Wine Spectator award tells our guests—current and potential—that our program has been vetted by a panel of experts and deemed amongst the best in the world,” said Erik Segelbaum, corporate wine director for the Starr Restaurants group, which earned 16 awards from Wine Spectator in 2018. “There is no doubt that Wine Spectator reviews and awards are held in the highest regard in the domestic and international community. Awards of this nature show our wine-loving guests that visiting one of our restaurants is time and money well spent.”
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, 2,453 restaurants achieved the Award of Excellence.
The Best of Award of Excellence, granted to 1,215 restaurants in 2018, 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.
Seven restaurants have earned Wine Spectator’s Grand Award for the first time in 2018. The new winners join an exclusive group that now totals 91 Grand Award winners located throughout the world. These 2018 Grand Award winners are: Ai Fiori in New York City; Barolo Grill in Denver; Le Coureur des Bois in Beloeil, Québec; Madera in Menlo Park, Calif.; Metropolitan Grill in Seattle; Restaurant Mosaic in Pretoria, South Africa; and Sistina in New York City. Read full profiles of them at Restaurants.WineSpectator.com or in the Aug. 31 issue of Wine Spectator, available on newsstands July 17.
To find more great dining spots for enjoying wine, go to Restaurants.WineSpectator.com, which features all of Wine Spectator’s 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 also featured in the Aug. 31 issue of Wine Spectator, which also looks at how wine lists evolve.
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!