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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, 2023

These restaurants made Wine Spectator’s annual awards

New names made the list in 2023 — and some regulars were absent

by Kristen Wile

Wine Spectator magazine has released its 2023 Restaurant Awards, and 20 Charlotte-area restaurants made the list, a number down from last year’s 23. New to this list this year is NoDa restaurant The Goodyear House and Uptown’s Mico Restaurant. For award consideration, restaurants must submit their wine lists and an application fee to the magazine. 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.” Counter-, in West Charlotte, moved up from Award of Excellence in its debut showing last year to a Best of Award of Excellence this year.

“Since we reopened Counter-, Sommeliers Michael [Myers] and Elyse [Simchik] have been focused on expanding our selection of wine produced by women, POC, LGBTQ+, and native winemakers and wineries,” says Counter- owner Sam Hart. “The goal wasn’t to increase our glass award, but rather to begin telling different stories than other places in town. It’s a beautiful thing to know that an organization like Wine Spectator sees the importance of this too.”

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 to around 2,000. Charlotte is yet to earn a Grand Award. In a city where bartenders gain significantly more attention than sommeliers, restaurants are beginning to do more work to highlight the people behind their wine programs. At Supperland, Michael Klinger — a recent UP Wine Club selector — and his wine program earned a spot on the list for the second time.

“At all our concepts, we are very well known for our cocktails — Colleen Hughes has done a tremendous job not only curating and creating but also training our team of highly-skilled bartenders,” says Jeff Brown, co-owner of Supperland. “This sort of effort and thoughtfulness is happening in our wine programs too — particularly at Supperland and Ever Andalo — where Michael Klinger, a Level 3 Somm, is heading up our lists and training our team. He has done an outstanding job, and we want to continue to position our restaurants as the top-notch wine destinations that they are.”

While the awards are a well-regarded resource for the wine community, not all restaurants find the application fee worth the benefit of appearing on the list. This year’s application fee was $595, up from last year’s $550 fee. Restaurants such as The Fig Tree and Ruth’s Chris, which held long tenures on the Best of Award of Excellence list, were absent this year.

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
Counter-, West Charlotte
The Gallery Restaurant, Ballantyne
Del Frisco’s, SouthPark
Peppervine, SouthPark
(and The Sting Bean, Belmont)

Award of Excellence

BLT Steak, Uptown
Caroline’s Oyster Bar, Uptown
Capital Grille, Uptown
Chima, Uptown
Corkscrew Wine Bar, Fort Mill
Dean’s, Uptown
Dilworth Tasting Room, SouthPark
Eddie V’s, Uptown
The Goodyear House, NoDa
Juniper Grill, South Charlotte
The McNinch House, Uptown
Mico Restaurant, Uptown
Morton’s, Uptown
The Palm, SouthPark
Supperland, Plaza Midwood

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