We're back for another chapter in our 2023 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, honoring the people who make our food & beverage scene soar.
It's the latest in our special
editorial series in which we've elected
nominees, and whom we'll celebrate at a party on May 4 at Fashion Industry Gallery (F.I.G.) with tastings and awards to the winners. Tickets are on sale now.
We've already profiled nominees for
Rising Star Chef, Neighborhood Restaurant, Bar, Brewery, Bartender, and Best New Restaurant (don't forget to vote!), and we'll soon be covering Restaurant of the Year, Chef of the Year, and Best Burger.
This entry pays tribute to the top wine programs in town. They include everything from new wine bars to classic steakhouses with grand wine lists.
Here are our nominees for 2023 Wine Program of the Year:
Like most steakhouses, this institution, now located in Frisco, boasts an impressive wine list with lots of cabernet and Champagne, including an excellent selection of by-the-glass offerings that, like the food, offer great value. Over the years, the restaurant has maintained a longtime commitment to education via wine dinners, such as the five-course dinner they recently hosted spotlighting accompanied by wine pairings by Duckhorn Vineyards.
Barcelona Wine Bar
Wine bar off Henderson Avenue serves Spanish-influenced food and drink, which means a fantastic and lengthy selection of tapas, plus cheeses & charcuterie, to pair with an amazing collection of wines from Spain, Portugal, Argentina, and France, plus sangria, sherry, and cocktails. In addition to bottle and by-the-glass, they also offer flights, tasty and educational, all in one.
Clink Wine Bar
Wine-centric spot in Flower Mound celebrates the community aspect of wine, something to be shared with family or friends. Their approach to wine is user-friendly with 10 wines on tap, plus 11 wine flights identified by terms such as "Go Big and Bold" and "Interesting Whites." The food menu is supportive with charcuterie boards, flatbreads, and snacks. They're a returning nominee from 2022.
West Coast concept, which opened its first location outside of California here in Addison, has two favorite beverage categories, and one is wine (the other's whiskey). You need only scan their menu to see what a thoughtful collection they have. It's not about the size, it's about unique options like the yummy 2017 sparkling Domaine Carneros, or the two wine flights, red or white for $25. District was also nominated for Best New Restaurant as well as chef.
Italian food emporium at NorthPark Center is unsurprisingly a one-stop spot for Italian wines, which you can enjoy by the glass or bottle on-site or to go. But it's also heavily into making wine accessible, with tastings, classes, and a Wine Club: For $75 a month, the experts at Eataly Vino choose three bottles of Italian wine (always valued above $75) accompanied by their history and tasting notes, plus members get discounts on other wine purchases, as well.
With two full-service bars, one inside and one outside, a patio with a retractable roof & fire pits, an ever-changing drink menu, charcuterie boards, salads, and fondue, Fizz has something for everyone - and for wine drinkers, it has a big champagne list, with dozens of sparkling wines, including Champagnes from France, names such as Taittinger, Ruinart, Pol Roger, and even a prizedCharles Heidsieck, Dom Perignon, Andre Clouet, Nomine-Renard, Louis Roederer, Perrier-Jouet, and more.
Most of what's been written about this steakhouse at the Highland Dallas hotel has centered on the food, since colorful chef John Tesar is such an irresistible subject, and the steaks are unique. But their wine selection is notable, with the backing of the Hilton chain to bolster the options which are unique and affordable. Their sibling in Plano was a nominee in 2021.
Restaurant at the National building in downtown Dallas is a wood-fired modern Italian concept imagined by Michelin chef Danny Grant and team. The restaurant is famous for its elegant space and expansive views as well as its pasta, steaks, and seafood — with a steakhouse-style wine list to match. If you're looking to splurge on a showpiece bottle, this is the place to do it and they have a bottle for every occasion. Thery're a returning nominee from 2022.
Acclaimed steakhouse from Houston has long been the pinnacle, winning awards for its wine program since long before most of the other nominees on this list were even open. Every steakhouse does wine up big, but Pappas has spent decades building an unparalleled collection with 3,900 distinct wines from every region across the world, including hard-to-get specialty wines with a big selection of wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy, and California, as well as hiring top wine professionals to oversee it.
Mediterranean restaurant is acclaimed not only for its food but also for its well-chosen wine list, with some bottles from regions previously unexplored in these parts. It's a clever match for the broad culinary reach of their menu, with wines from Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Morocco, Slovenia, and Corsica. The average price of a bottle is about $50, offering an attractive opportunity to try something new. It's a returning nominee, having made the list in 2019, and its wine program was also nominated as a semifinalist for a James Beard award in 2022.