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Editor's Note: This story is unlocked for everyone to read courtesy of the CRVA, our partner in nourishing culinary exploration for residents and visitors of the Queen City.

June 28, 2022

Charlotte wine lists earn Wine Spectator awards

Charlotte’s presence is growing on the annual list

Wine Spectator magazine has released its 2022 Restaurant Awards, and several Charlotte restaurants are making their debut on the list. This year, a total of 23 local restaurants are among the winners — about 50 percent more than last year. Counter-, Supperland, Dean’s, Caroline’s Oyster Bar, Juniper Grill, and Dilworth Tasting Room all made their first showing on the list. For award consideration, restaurants must submit their wine lists and an application fee. Wine Spectator staff first confirms the list includes accurate vintages and producer names, as well as correct spelling of offerings. From there, restaurants are considered for one of three awards.

The Award of Excellence highlights wine lists that “offer at least 90 selections, feature a well-chosen assortment of quality producers, along with a thematic match to the menu in both price and style. Whether compact or extensive, focused or diverse, these lists deliver sufficient choice to satisfy discerning wine lovers,” according to the contest rules.

Restaurants that earn the Best of Award of Excellence generally serve more than 350 wine selections, and “display excellent breadth across multiple winegrowing regions and/or significant vertical depth of top producers, along with superior presentation.”

The Grand Award is given to around 100 restaurants nationwide, while the Best Of award goes to just over 1,000 and the Award of Excellence around 2,000.

While Charlotte is yet to earn a Grand Award, the city’s presence has slowly been growing in Wine Spectator‘s annual Restaurant Awards issue — something that says Charlotte’s restaurateurs are headed in the right direction.

“It means you are doing something right,” says Counter- chef/owner Sam Hart. “So much of the restaurant industry is guessing. Also, it validates what we are pushing for in our wine program. Having a wine list that is focused on women, POC, and LGBTQ+ winemakers, vineyard owners, and distributors came with plenty of eye rolls. But getting this award while trying to tell what we believe is an important story means so much.”

However, not every restaurant owner felt a desire to be part of this year’s list. Greg Zanitsch of The Fig Tree decided not to enter the awards last year due to the cost of entry, following a decade on the list and Best of Award of Excellence designation, one of the city’s few non-chain restaurants to have done so. With a $550 application fee, he decided to pass again this year.

“They keep raising their application fees and I didn’t feel like it is worth the investment,” Zanitsch says. He also noted the design in the magazine wasn’t as compelling as it once was.

See the full list of local winners below. The complete list is available here, and will be available in print mid-July.

Best of Award of Excellence

Barcelona Wine Bar, South End
BLT Steak, Uptown
The Gallery Restaurant, Ballantyne
Del Frisco’s, SouthPark
Peppervine, SouthPark
Ruth’s Chris, Uptown and SouthPark

Award of Excellence

The Capital Grille, Uptown
Caroline’s Oyster Bar, Uptown
Chima, Uptown
Counter-, West Charlotte
Dean’s, Uptown
Dilworth Tasting Room, both locations (Dilworth and SouthPark)
Eddie V’s, Uptown
Juniper Grill, South Charlotte
Mama Ricotta’s, Cherry
The McNinch House, Uptown
Morton’s, Uptown
The Palm, SouthPark
The Pump House, Rock Hill
Supperland, Plaza Midwood
Village Tavern, SouthPark

If you’re seeking the city’s best restaurants for wine, you can always use our restaurant finder’s “Good For” drop-down menu and select “wine lovers” to see our top picks for wine drinkers.

Posted in: Latest Updates, News, Wine + Cheese