Wine Spectator Names Top Wine Destinations

Four dining spots, A Voce Columbus in Manhattan, Acquerello in San Francisco, Commander's Palace in New Orleans and Sierra Mar at the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, Calif., have earned Grand Award honors in Wine Spectator’s 2012 Restaurant Wine List Awards. They join 71 other restaurants that currently hold Grand Awards as the world’s top wine destinations for diners.

A Voce Columbus in Manhattan

“When Wine Spectator debuted the Grand Awards 31 years ago, the idea of honoring restaurant wine lists raised some eyebrows,” said Marvin R. Shanken, Editor and Publisher, Wine Spectator. “Today, enjoying wine with meals has become an integral part of the American dining experience, and we are truly in a golden age of restaurant wine lists. On behalf of Wine Spectator, we congratulate all those restaurateurs who have committed their time, energy and resources to building fine wine programs.”

Acquerello in San Francisco

Since 1981, Wine Spectator has honored the world’s best wine lists. This year, 2,842 restaurants earned the program’s entry-level Award of Excellence, which recognizes a wine list that offers a good selection of quality wines that thematically match a restaurant’s cuisine. Another 878 restaurants earned the program’s mid-tier Best of Award of Excellence for offering a wine list with significant vintage depth or superior breadth in one or more major wine regions.

Commander's Palace in New Orleans

The Grand Award represents the program’s top echelon. Restaurants in this elite group—representing 13 countries and 16 U.S. states—generally offer 1,500 or more selections, with superior breadth and depth in many of the world’s classic wine-producing regions. They have also passed a rigorous inspection that evaluates the overall quality of their wine program, cellars, service, ambiance and cuisine.

Overall, the 3,795 award winners span all 50 U.S. states and more than 70 countries around the world.

“Fueled by a youthful demographic that is adventurously exploring the food-and-wine world along with a renewed sense of creativity on the part of restaurateurs, a new energy has been brought to wine programs around the world, and wine lovers are responding with enthusiasm,” said Thomas Matthews, Executive Editor, Wine Spectator. “The nearly 3,800 restaurants honored in our Dining Guide lead the way, offering thought-provoking experiences to a new generation that wants to expand its wine horizons while maximizing its wine dollars.”

Sierra Mar at the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, Calif

The complete list of award winners is featured in the Aug. 31 issue of Wine Spectator, available on newsstands July 24. The issue also features detailed industry analysis and full profiles of this year’s new Grand Award winners.

Wine Spectator is the world’s leading authority on wine. Anchored by Wine Spectator magazine, a print publication that reaches more than 3 million readers worldwide, the brand also encompasses the Web’s most comprehensive wine site (, mobile platforms, and a series of signature events. Wine Spectator examines the world of wine from the vineyard to the table, exploring wine’s role in contemporary culture and delivering expert reviews of more than 15,000 wines each year. 

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