The time for wine has arrived, part of CultureMap's Tastemaker Awards, our annual celebration of the best in Dallas food and drink.
As part of our editorial series, where we spotlight nominees in categories such as best bars, best neighborhood restaurants, best rising star chefs, and best ghost kitchens, we're raising a toast to the 10 best wine programs in town.
The 2021 nominees include everything from wine bars to restaurants with impressive lists. A panel of judges consisting of former CultureMap Tastemaker Award winners and local F&B experts narrowed down the list to 10. One winner will be announced at the Tastemaker Awards party on August 19 at Fashion Industry Gallery, where we'll dine on bites from nominated restaurants while emcee CJ Starr reveals the winners. (Buy tickets here.)
Here are the 10 best wine programs in Dallas:
Barcelona Wine Bar
Between ownership changes and the pandemic, this charming wine bar off Henderson Avenue had a rocky start, but it hasn't lost its pluck. Food and drink are both Spanish-influenced, which means a fantastic and lengthy selection of tapas, plus cheeses and 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.
This chic wine bar is just what Victory Park needed. Fans love it as a great place for a wine-and-cheese girls' night out or a light wine-centric meal. They have wine on tap, by the glass, or by the bottle, with cheese & meat boards you can design yourself. Their list encompasses bottles from France, Italy, Spain, and California as well as emerging regions such as Portugal, Australia, South America, and of course Texas.
Elm & Good
Restaurant at the Pittman Hotel in Deep Ellum is a testament to the beauty of editing. Whether you're talking about food or drink, the menu is compact, with a limited number of choices but each choice thoughtfully made. For example, the by-the-glass list has five whites, five reds, two roses, and two sparklers — and every one of them is a good choice. No need to spend hours sifting. They also do very generous pours, and the prices — $12 to $16 per glass — are far from a gouge.
Restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas from uber-chef Dean Fearing has a steakhouse-like wine selection with bottles in every varietal and price point. Led by longtime wine director and Advanced Sommelier Paul Botamer, the extensive wine menu is served in all seven of the restaurant's distinct atmospheres, including a private 6,000-bottle Wine Cellar. Botamer is also responsible for the creation and execution of special wine events including pairing dinners with some of the top wine makers in the U.S.
This Henderson Avenue classic (which is currently closed for renovations until mid-August) has received accolades galore for its excellent food and carefully considered wine list, with a selection that draws your most savvy wine lovers as well as your everyday tippler. During the pandemic, Gemma pivoted with the best of them to offer a wine-to-go list that includes cool deals like the Kamiak Rock Lake Red cabernet blend from Washington State for $24.
Chef John Tesar debuted his steakhouse at the Highland Dallas hotel before opening this second location at the Shops at Willow Bend in Plano — because Plano needs dry-aged steak and wine, too. They recently reconfigured their space, adding a pandemic-friendly lounge that's ideal for sharing a bottle of wine or even a glass, with a list that ranges from a fun $11 moscato to a $27 cabernet by Groth in Napa Valley.
Nick & Sam's
Steakhouses possess some of the most notable and extensive wine collections to be found, and this classic on Maple Avenue is no exception, with more than 500 wine labels, ranging from old-world Cabs to the obligatory exclusive labels that go with this realm. Their by-the-glass selection includes some labels you don't generally find in a by-the-glass option, making it a great place to go when you want to try an impossibly expensive wine for under $20.
If Deep Ellum were going to get a wine bar, then there's no better choice than this eclectic and funky concept from Phoenix, which is totally down with historical neighborhoods and the accompanying vibe. Using roll-away garage-style doors, they've created a cool indoor-outdoor bar, perfect for these times, where you can snack on a Brie, apple, & fig bruschetta while choosing your sip from 30 wines by the glass and 40 wines by the bottle.
Trova Wine + Market
Cozy, stylish wine shop and bar features wines from around the world, as well as a small menu of local and artisanal food stuffs. Everything they have is something you want, from toast with prosciutto and raspberry-fig jam or grilled cheese with apple butter, to intriguing wines such as Anjou Chenin Blanc, a crisp white from France's Loire Valley from up-and-coming producer Thibaud Boudignon, who makes only organic and biodynamic wines. You learn something with every sip.
Veritas Wine Room
Henderson Avenue charmer has a strong neighborhood bar vibe, but with adventurous wines and a knowledgeable staff. They're known for their weekly wine specials and frequent tasting events, which post-pandemic, they've recently resumed, not a minute too soon. For $45, you typically get 15 one-ounce pours from a broad range of incredible wines the owners have amassed over the years. If you want to make some new wine-savvy friends, hit up their $2-off happy hours weekdays from 3-6 pm.