Restaurants are finding innovative ways to bring back diners after two difficult years. Restaurants around the globe are enhancing the dining experience with innovative beverage programs, including wine flights, creative “mocktails,” and much more.
Please take a look, for example, at our recently revealed list of almost 3,200 restaurants that have won Wine Spectator restaurant awards in 2022. The winning restaurants of this year, which all offer outstanding wine programs, come from more than 70 countries, including all 50 states. The awards are divided into three categories: Award of Excellence (Best of Award of Excellence) and Grand Award. We are proud to recognize all these restaurants’ hard work and dedication.
Sommelier Jason Ferris explained why these awards are so important to restaurants. “When guests see the [ Wine Spectator] logo or plaque on your menu, they feel confident that your wine program is better than its peers.”
Virginie Naigeon Malek’s passion for wine began while she was growing up in Burgundy. She combined that with her prior career experience to take over the Avanti Wine Program.
Virginie Naigeon Malek, the wine director at Award of Excellence-winning Avanti Restaurant in Dallas, was committed to creating an equal-gender wine list and showcasing Texas wines as part of their Italian and Mediterranean-inspired list. She said that winning a Wine Spectator restaurant award meant joining an international wine community passionate about promoting a diverse and innovative wine industry. This award is a powerful connector and also has a social impact!
The Award of Excellence goes to restaurants with carefully selected lists that include both diverse and high-quality selections and are in line with the style and price of their menu. These lists can range from 100 to more than 200 choices. This year, 1,782 restaurants received an Award of Excellence.
The Best of Award of Excellence was given to 1,290 additional restaurants. Of these, 137 were brand new this year. This award is for those who go the extra distance. These lists have around 350 well-chosen choices, with wines from top producers and a wide range of regions. Restaurants that deserve our Best of Award of Excellence go a step beyond by uniquely presenting the wine list, training their staff to provide knowledgeable service, and offering diners the opportunity to learn through wine dinners.
Tonya Pitts chose a career in wine after a stint in law and art. She has transformed One Market Restaurant’s Wine Program into a Best of Award of Excellence Winner, highlighting the diversity of the wine industry. (Courtesy One Market Restaurant).
My first Wine Spectator Award with One Market Restaurant came in 2011. “I can remember adding my new wine items to the list and checking for errors,” said Tonya Pits. She is now the wine director at the San Francisco dining place, where she strives to create diversity, not only in regions and grape varietals but also through special lists and tastings, as well as dinners that highlight wines made, owned, or grown by women, members of BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities, and Indigenous people. “I never would have imagined that we would receive two glasses of wine on my first solo list with the company. “I now strive to win the next Grand Award and glass every year.”
The Grand Award, Wine Spectator’s highest honor, is presented to the most elite wine programs in the world. Restaurants must demonstrate unwavering passion and dedication to building and growing an exceptional wine list every year in order to earn this award. These lists have at least 1,000 choices and offer a variety of vintages and bottle formats from the most renowned producers in the world. Our Grand Award winners provide the ultimate dining experience, including creative presentation, flawless service, extensive wine knowledge, and immaculate cellar conditions. The candidates for the Grand Award must undergo a thorough inspection by one of our judges. In 2022, the Grand Award will be given to 97 restaurants around the world. This includes two 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. For restaurant recommendations while on the move, download Wine Spectator’s App. It is available for free from the App Store. The winners of the awards are listed in the August 31 issue of Wine Spectator.
Keep up to date with the latest restaurant news and trends, and find out more about Restaurant Award winners through Q&As and roundups. These include restaurants with great wine lists and bucket-list destinations. Subscribe to our Private Guide to Dining newsletter to ensure you never miss a thing!