Get ready for the 2017 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, our annual event honoring the best in local food and drink. We've elected nominees in all categories of food and beverage, from best chefs to the best restaurant in Dallas-Fort Worth.
We've already profiled the candidates for Rising Star Chef, Best Neighborhood Restaurant, Best Bars, and Best Bartenders. This time, we take a look at the restaurants with the best wine programs in Dallas.
Here are the nominees:
With a sibling like Veritas Wine Room, it's no surprise that the wine list at this Oak Cliff restaurant would distinguish itself. To complement the Franco menu, the list runs heavy on French wines, with a dozen champagnes and sparklers and a judicious selection of French whites. There are a few high-dollar bottles of Bordeaux but also a selection of other French reds where you can get a good bottle at a nice price.
For a charming little mom-and-pop bistro, Gemma has an extremely expansive wine list, with bottles from just about every wine region in the world, including some prized labels from Napa Valley. There's an especially large selection of customer-friendly half-bottles, plus more than a dozen French white burgundys, which has become the favorite pick of the wine hipster set. Wines from France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Spain, Greece, and Slovenia make the list, and Texas, too, including Duchman among the eight wines available on tap.
With its innovative menu featuring unusual cuts of meat, this restaurant at the Highland Dallas hotel is no ordinary steakhouse, and the wine list follows suit. The list has a geographical provenance — Northern Hemisphere only — which sommelier Sabrina Snodderley embraces as an opportunity to spur creativity and conversation with customers. Malbec has become one of the most popular wines, but it's from Argentina, which makes it a no-go; instead, she features French Cahors, the region where Malbec was born.
Lark on the Park
Being a Shannon Wynne restaurant, you know Lark has good beer. But this spot across from Klyde Warren Park has also carved out a niche for wine. For starters, every single bottle on the list can also be ordered by the glass, whether it's an Italian prosecco or an $80-a-bottle Sonoma Valley cabernet. It's also wisely on the rose-all-day theme, with at least five roses by the glass.
Mercy Wine Bar
Addison wine bar opened in 2003 as an early outpost for wine drinkers in North Dallas and beyond. It was originally notable as much for its singles scene as its wine list, but it's hard to top a selection that includes up to 125 options by the glass. That makes it easy for customers to sample wines they haven't tried, a journey that's aided and abetted by very generous prices at happy hour.
Downtown gastropub could possibly serve Boone's Farm and still win, thanks to its floor-to-ceiling views of Klyde Warren Park. But there's innovation in its wine program, specifically its adoption of a keg program with wines on tap. Only certain vineyards do casks, so you get wines you might not find elsewhere. And for high-rollers, Savor has a small list of reserve wines by the bottle, such as the Napa Valley Overture, where you can spend up to $300 to make that big splash.
Casual-chic restaurant from Frontburner Restaurants (Whiskey Cake, Mexican Sugar, Velvet Taco) with standout pizza has a unique and a hugely accessible wine program. The emphasis is on West Coast labels, including an in-house label made exclusively for the restaurant. There are 60 wines by the glass, as well as a big commitment to wines on tap, with at least 36 options. You can order any wine on tap in a range of amounts: 2.5-ounce, 5-ounce, 8-ounce, or a bottle-sized 750 ml pour, and flights, too.
The Ranch at Las Colinas
With steaks and chops on the menu, this Texas-styled restaurant from Frontburner Restaurants possesses the mega-assemblage of wines from around the world one might expect, with 242 bottles and lots of big reds. But what has probably put The Ranch on the map in the world of wine is its radical "retail plus" pricing structure, with wines sold not at the usual times-three restaurant markup but at about 15 percent more than what you'd pay at a liquor store. We are talking Caymus for $99. We are talking wow.