< back to Blog home
Kali Mireva

Have a Top Wine List? | What Are the Wine Spectator’s Awards

Table of Contents
Thank you! Check your inbox for details.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

There are a few prestigious awards that restauranteurs and chefs want to win. One example is the James Beard Awards, which we covered in a previous article. How to earn a Michelin Star is another topic we have covered that will help any bar or restaurant improve their customer service, cuisine, and beverage inventory

We have previously talked about the importance of building a good wine list and venturing out of the ordinary by introducing some unique wines and exotic wines, too. Here, however, we want to lift the curtain and tell you more about the Wine Spectator’s award. 

In this article you will learn more about the Wine Spectator’s Award, what it takes to build a top wine list, and how you can become a winner, too. Let’s jump right into it!

Book a demo with Revolution Ordering now!

What Is the Wine Spectator’s Award?

Wine Spectator is a lifestyle magazine that focuses mostly on wine culture, wine, and wine ratings. The Wine Spectator’s Restaurant Awards are made to recognize restaurants with wine lists offering interesting selections of wine, that are appropriate to the restaurant’s cuisine and will appeal to a large range of wine enthusiasts

If you want to qualify for the award, you need to have a top wine list that includes accurate information about the wine vintages and appellations for all of the selections. The complete producer names and correct spellings are a must. The overall presentation of the wine list is also put into consideration. The wine lists that meet these criteria are judged for one of three awards in total.

Key Takeaway: Wining a Wine Spectator’s award is a great honor for restaurants. Building a top wine list can help you get this recognition but it’s not all you should focus on. Pay attention to proper food and wine pairings, quality service, good wine storage, etc. 

The Three Award Categories

There are three types of awards you can get for your top wine list. They are: 

  • Award of Excellence - The wine lists that get the award for excellence offer at least 90 selections. They feature a well-curated assortment of quality wines and allow the creation of different wine pairings in various styles and price ranges. 
  • Best Award for Excellence - The top wine lists featured in this category show an outstanding breadth across multiple wine-growing regions. They can also show significant vertical depth of top wine producers and superior presentation. The restaurants awarded in this category usually offer 350 or more selections. These gems in the hospitality industry are destinations for wine lovers and show a deep commitment to wine. 
  • Grand Award - The highest award given to restaurateurs is the Grand Award for a top wine list. It’s given to businesses showing a passionate devotion to the quality of their wine programs. These wine lists usually include 1000 or more wine selections and deliver a significant breadth of producers, great depth in mature wine vintages, a selection of large bottles, and excellent harmony with the food menu. Impeccable presentation is also important. 

Other Information about the Wine Spectator’s Awards

Now that we have explained the basics of the Wine Spectator’s awards you may get for your top wine list, it’s time to talk about other important details. 

Sommeliers or Wine Directors

Having a sommelier or a wine director helping restaurant guests choose the best wines for their meals is always an advantage. When applying for the Wine Spectator’s Awards, you should provide the information regarding your sommelier or wine director, too. 

Wine Strengths

The judges of Wine Spectator prefer to see quality wines from some regions, rather than wines from all world locations. The wine strengths are listed in descending order of importance.

Download our FREE resources today!

Wine Selections

This number indicates how many selections were on the top wine list when the awards were granted. For the Grand Award winners, this is followed by the number of bottles present in the beverage inventory. 

Wine Pricing

Determined by the judges of the awards, wine pricing describes the overall pricing of the list. It takes into account the general markup of the wine bottles and the number of wines that are in the higher and lower price points. The inexpensive lists are full of wines that cost less than $50 and they have a markup below the normal. This means that the markup is two or maybe two and a half times the wine wholesale price. 

Moderate lists use the industry norm markup and are filled with a range of less expensive and expensive wines. Expensive lists have wines with a higher markup and include selections with prices of over $100 a bottle. But here it’s important to note that pricing is not a judging criterion and it’s simply provided to guide the reader. 


This information provided by the restaurant reflects the corkage fee charged per bottle. The corkage fee is usually charged per 750ml bottle. However, some restaurants do not allow guests to bring their own wine. 

Menu Pricing and Cuisine Type

The information about the cuisine type is provided by the restaurant owners and it indicates the style of the food that’s being served. Menu pricing, however, is determined by our judges. The pricing categories are based on what a regular guest would pay for a two-course meal. The price does not include the tip or the cost of the beverages. The categories are: 

  • Inexpensive is less than $40
  • Moderate is between $40 and $65
  • Expensive is over $66 

For the restaurants that only offer a prix fixe menu, the specific price is indicated based on the information provided by the representative of the restaurant. 

Want to Win a Wine Spectator Award?

The first and most important thing to do if you want to win a Wine Spectator award is to curate a top wine list for your restaurant. It will take time, a lot of research, and investing in proper wine storage. Hiring a professional sommelier will benefit your restaurant, too. 

But how do you manage all of the wine bottles? You sure need to have lots of red wines, roses, white wines, and of course - sparkling wines. To ensure you are staying on top of quantities and can order new bottles with ease, you need BinWise. Our platform will allow you to create a digital wine list, change it as frequently as you want, and keep an eye on customer preferences.   

If you want to find out more about the great features of BinWise that will take your business to the next level and help you save time while increasing profit, you need to book a demo now!

Book a demo with BinWise today!

Frequently Asked Questions about Having a Top Wine List and Winning a Wine Spectator Award

Have more questions about building a top wine list and winning a Wine Spectator’s award? We answer some frequently asked questions on the topic below!

How Can I Qualify for a Wine Spectator Award?

To qualify for a Wine Spectator award, restaurants must submit an application that includes their wine list, menu, and other relevant information. The wine list is evaluated based on factors such as wine selection, breadth and depth of offerings, pricing, and overall quality.

What Are the Benefits of Winning a Wine Spectator Award?

Winning a Wine Spectator award can provide numerous benefits, including:

  • increased prestige and visibility
  • enhanced reputation among wine enthusiasts
  • potential for attracting new customers
  • recognition of the restaurant's commitment to excellence in wine service

With all of these benefits, the restaurant will surely be able to increase its profit, too.

How Can I Improve My Chances of Winning a Wine Spectator Award?

To improve your chances of winning a Wine Spectator award, focus on curating a diverse, top wine list that showcases a range of wines from different regions, grape varieties, and styles. Emphasize proper wine storage and service, provide detailed descriptions and pairing recommendations, and continuously update and refine your wine program to meet the preferences of your guests.

Book a Demo
Reduce inventory counting time by as much as 85%. Schedule a demo now:
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.