Cocktails and beer are wonderful, but no beverage matches up with food quite the way wine does. With so many different regions, varietals, and vintages, the challenge is finding the right wine to pair with someone's dish.
For the CultureMap Tastemaker Awards Wine Program of the Year category, our panel of former winners and restaurant industry experts selected the finalists that not only offer extensive selections but also have knowledgeable staffs that can guide their customers to the right wine at the right time.
To find out which restaurant takes the prize, join us at the CultureMap Tastemaker Awards party on April 4. We'll celebrate the nominees, snack on bites provided by 20 Houston restaurants, and reveal the winners during a ceremony hosted by Houston hip hop legend Bun B. Tickets are on sale now.
As noted in the bar of the year article, 13 Celsius remains a charming date spot with a super-friendly staff that’s led by general manager Adele Corrigan. The wine list is deep, with a broad range of selections from all parts of the world. Styles and regions may be familiar, but the vintages probably won’t be. Don’t hesitate to ask the staff to suggest a favorite.
No surprise that a restaurant named a town in France’s Champagne region and decorated with hundreds of glass bubbles offers Houston’s deepest list of sparkling wines at prices that are frequently below retail. The extensive list of non-sparkling red and white wines is almost as well-priced. Either way, the deals offered by owner Shawn Virene are so good and the selections are so extensive that it’s easy to linger on the patio and order another bottle.
Camerata at Paulie's
With features like the city’s deepest selection of English sparkling wines and an expansive selection of trendy orange wines, this Montrose bar caters to both dedicated oenophiles and newbies alike. General manager Chris Poldoian and his staff are as well-schooled in the different terroirs of the Champagne region as they are in the Spanish producers currently featured on the menu. Or just let the staff pour a glass of whatever it is they’re most excited about currently. It’s probably delicious.
Having earned both Restaurant of the Year and Chef of the Year honors last year, it’s no surprise that Coltivare is a repeat nominee in this category. Just as with the food features carefully selected local ingredients, Coltivare’s wine selection features small production vintages from independent wineries that are as delicious as they are affordable. General manager Jeb Stuart may be departing for a new opportunity, but expect the wine program’s overall excellence to continue in his absence.
Considering the restaurant rolled out a wine list for both its steakhouse incarnation and its current life as a European restaurant, One Fifth certainly has earned this nomination. Wine director Matthew Pridgen’s draws from mostly Old World selections to match the cuisine. Even better, the prices are low enough that choosing bottles over glasses is a reasonable decision.
This Heights-area seafood restaurant pairs its extensive oyster selection with a full range of sparkling wines. Red and white options pull from around the world to suit the menu’s global perspective. Looking for something different? Try the lambrusco rose from Italy’s Cantina della Volta, which pours a pale pink and possesses a very mild sweetness.
State of Grace
As befits a Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year winner, the wine list at this River Oaks restaurant offers an eclectic mix of wines to match the wide-ranging menu. That means sparkling wine to satisfy oyster lovers and plenty of hearty reds to stand up to the beef rib or a steak. General manager Matt Crawford earned his Advanced Sommelier certification, which ensures the service and presentation will match the quality of the food.