Dallas loves its steakhouses. And steakhouse diners love a good wine selection. So, it follows that most of the restaurants named in Wine Spectator's recent Restaurant Awards are steakhouses, but we are absolutely delighted to find some names missing the word "steak" appearing on the list. Wine Spectator recognizes wine programs across the country and in some international cities that are offering the most thoughtful, well-curated wine lists to their guests.
The Dallas wine scene has evolved a great deal in the last decade. Our winos are going beyond the Napa cabs and expanding their palates to new regions and varietals, and restaurants are taking notice.
This year, we weren't surprised to find some longtime Dallas staples, such as Pappas Bros. Steakhouse (a Grand Award Winner and on the list since 2011) and III Forks (a Best of Award of Excellence winner, on the list since 2002), but 21 of the winners this year aren't purveyors of red meat. Look for fewer expected names such as Oak, Bullion, Grace and Zaytinya. Antonio Ristorante in Addison also made the list for a second year in a row.
"I think that the Dallas wine scene has come a long way, especially in the last couple years. I believe it's thanks to the great wine educators in our city. People are willing to try new wines, and people in the wine industry are coming up with new wine events to further wine education. So, in turn, consumers are willing to try new things and new wines," says Melanie Ofenloch, editor of dallaswinechick.com. "For example, look at Sachet's wine list, where the majority of consumers are more than likely not familiar with many of the wines on the list, but they are still one of the hardest reservations to get in Dallas."
While we're seeing a great evolution, Dallas also has mainstays that have seen many accolades for their wine selection over the years — like Pappas Bros., which works to keep their guests' favorites while delighting patrons with new offerings.
We spoke with their wine director and master sommelier, Barbara Werley, about what she thinks it has taken to keep her program on top for 10 years.
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"It's a challenge these days because you have so many more people interested in wine worldwide; so we're seeing more difficulty finding verticals (multiple vintages of a wine) that many of our regular guests look for," she says. "It takes a lot of work, research and relationship-building to keep those avenues open so we can provide wines our guests expect."
Dallasites, and frankly, DFW residents as a whole — since we're seeing wine programs in Frisco (Haywire, Zaytinya), Colleyville (Next Bistro) and Las Colinas (The Ranch) gain recognition — are catching up. Thanks to progressive education, knowledgeable wine stewards in shops and restaurants, and our curiosity, our restaurants are standing up and delivering.
As Ofenloch says, "It's an exciting time to be drinking wine in Dallas."
View the entire list of awards at restaurants.winespectator.com.