After two challenging years, during which many customers took a long hiatus from dining out, restaurants are developing innovative ways to attract diners back, no matter their preferences. From wine flights to creative, quality “mocktails” and more, restaurants around the world are pulling out all the stops with their beverage programs to enhance the full dining experience, giving all wine lovers a reason to be excited about going out again.
For example, take a look at our newly revealed list of nearly 3,200 restaurants that have earned Wine Spectator Restaurant Awards in 2022. This year’s winning restaurants, each offering outstanding wine programs, hail from all 50 states and more than 70 countries and territories. The awards are given across three categories: Award of Excellence, Best of Award of Excellence and Grand Award. We are excited to honor all of these restaurants for their hard work and dedication.
Explaining why the awards matter so much to restaurants, sommelier Jason Ferris said, “When guests see that [Wine Spectator] plaque, or that logo on your menu, it gives them confidence that your wine program stands out among its peers.” The restaurant where he works, the Park Inn in Hammondsport, in New York’s Finger Lakes wine region, was upgraded to Best of Award of Excellence this year.
At Award of Excellence winner Avanti Restaurant in Dallas, wine director Virginie Naigeon-Malek committed to creating a gender-equal wine list, as well as to showcasing local Texas wines on their Italian- and Mediterranean-driven list. “Beyond the extraordinary recognition and visibility, winning a Wine Spectator Restaurant Award means joining an international community of wine lovers passionate about celebrating the work of winemakers and truly intentional about advancing a diverse, innovative and sustainable wine industry,” she said. “A powerful connector, this award also drives social impact!”
The Award of Excellence is given to restaurants that offer thoughtfully chosen lists, containing both quality and diverse selections that are compatible with the menu’s style and pricing. Generally, these lists average around 100 selections but can be much larger. This year, 1,782 restaurants earned an Award of Excellence.
An additional 1,290 restaurants, of which 137 were new to the awards program this year, achieved our Best of Award of Excellence—for those that go the extra mile. These lists offer around 350 or more well-chosen selections, with a vast array of wines from top producers, wide breadth of regions and vintage depth. Restaurants deserving of our Best of Award of Excellence also take their love of wine a step further, such as carefully designing the presentation of the list, training staff on wine to ensure guests have knowledgeable assistance and giving diners an opportunity to learn more through curated wine dinners.
“My first Wine Spectator award with One Market Restaurant was in 2011. I can remember painstakingly adding my new items to the wine list and double checking for errors,” said Tonya Pitts, now wine director of the San Francisco dining spot, where she strives to create diversity not just in regions and grape varieties but through special lists, tastings and dinners highlighting wines owned, grown or made by women and members of BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and Indigeneous communities. “Never would I have thought we would be elevated to two glasses on my first solo wine list with the company. Now I strive to get the next glass and Grand Award every year.”
The Grand Award is Wine Spectator’s most prestigious honor and is given to the world’s elite wine programs. To earn this award, restaurants must show unwavering dedication and passion to building and growing an exceptional wine list year after year. These wine lists generally have 1,000 selections or more, present diners with a depth of vintages from some of the world’s most highly regarded producers and include multiple bottle formats. All of our Grand Award winners offer the ultimate dining experience: creative presentation, flawless customer service, comprehensive wine knowledge and pristine cellar conditions. Candidates for the Grand Award are required to go through a rigorous inspection by one of our judges. For 2022, we are bestowing the Grand Award on 97 worthy restaurants throughout the world, including 2 first-time winners: Gabriel Kreuther in New York City and Press Restaurant in Napa Valley.
To find more great dining spots for enjoying wine, go to WineSpectator.com/Restaurants/Search, which features all of Wine Spectator’s 2022 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 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 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!