Dear DFW Sommeliers, Please Make This New Year’s Resolution…

Several local sommeliers deserve special recognition for their efforts. The industry standard used by wine consumers is the Wine Spectator award system. As I dine around, I am amazed to learn that too many restaurants do not submit their list to Wine Spectator or make small changes to their list in an effort to move up to the next level.
The Wine Spectator‘s Awards deadline is Feb. 1st, 2012. I urge anyone responsible for the wine program in a restaurant to get the presentation of your list into shape now and get the professional recognition that your work deserves!
Here are the guidelines and entry forms. Jump for more information.

Awards Are Given on Three Levels:

Award of ExcellenceAward of Excellence
2,827 current winners
Our basic award, for lists that offer a well-chosen selection of quality producers, along with a thematic match to the menu in both price and style. Typically, these lists offer at least 100 selections.

Award of ExcellenceBest of Award of Excellence
833 current winners
Our second-tier award, created to give special recognition to restaurants that clearly exceed the requirements of the Award of Excellence. These lists typically offer 400 or more selections, along with superior presentation, and display either vintage depth, with several vertical offerings of top wines, or excellent breadth across several wine regions.

Award of ExcellenceGrand Award
74 current winners
Our highest award, given to restaurants that show an uncompromising, passionate devotion to the quality of their wine program. These restaurants typically offer 1,500 selections or more, and feature serious breadth of top producers, outstanding depth in mature vintages, a selection of large-format bottles, excellent harmony with the menu and superior organization, presentation and wine service.


  • Kirk

    Based on the numbers of “winners” listed above, Wine Spectator owner Marv Shanken seems to be the biggest winner of all. His company brings in at least $1 million a year in application fees alone, not to mention the additional “opportunities” to buy advertising, official seals of approval, and other tsotschkes to market these awards. Here’s a link to the now infamous story of Osteria L’Intrepido, a fake restaurant in Milan that won an Award of Excellence with a fake wine list made up of wines the Wine Spectator itself rated as “poor.” It would be interesting to see what percentage of the applicants become winners of these awards.

  • Kirk
  • Andrew Chalk

    We discussed that here:
    – less than three weeks ago.

    The fact remains that the Wine Spectator Awards are the only game in town. The solution is not to be an armchair bellyacher but to go out and establish your superior grading system.

  • Kirk

    Please do so, Andrew!

  • Terroir

    Two corollary’s for Spectator submissions (and I have made many of them)

    One–don’t pad your list, submit it and then revert back to a different or lesser wine list (see this occasionally) and
    Two-don’t submit a wine list that you have never and would never use just to get the award (see this occasionally as well).

    Submit an honest representation of your program, not a retrospective, and not wishful thinking

    If you don’t have the wine, or carry it CURRENTLY, it should not be on your submission.

    We will be watching.