Wine & Spirits Magazine Publishes 26th Annual Restaurant Issue, April 2015

by W&S Team  wineandspirits • posted on March 3, 2015

W&S's April 2015 Restaurant Poll Cover

The results of Wine & Spirits Magazine’s 26th Annual Restaurant Poll are in: American wine drinkers are ready to explore. Spurred by an increasingly diverse market, sommeliers reported continued growth in wine sales during 2014 over 2013.

American’s thirst for exploration is apparent in respondents’ by-the-glass offerings, our list expanding in this year’s Poll Report to 42 brands, a record number.

The diversity is also apparent in the explosion of varieties in respondents’ lists of top-selling wines, also reaching a record at 131. While cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir remain the favorite choices in America’s top dining rooms, their share of the most popular wines gave ground to other varieties.

And while US wines continue to dominate the most popular wines in America’s most popular restaurants, their share of respondents’ top-selling wines dropped dramatically in 2014. Instead, sommeliers reported, diners increasingly looked toward Italy; they also recorded a significant jump in the popularity of French wines. 

Champagne, in particular, has never been hotter. Last year saw more mentions of sparkling wine on respondents’ lists than in any of the previous 25 years of the Poll. This is the first time since 2008 that a Champagne producer has risen into the top 10 brands mentioned in the Poll. And in follow-up interviews (available at wineandspiritsmagazine.com), many sommeliers remarked on the popularity of sparkling wines.

Some of the trend is due to pricing, says Thomas Pastuszak, wine director of The NoMad in NYC. “People want to drink real Champagne,” he says, “and we’re in this beautiful era of having importers and distributers who are finding and bringing in Champagnes from outlier areas like the Aube.”

Sommeliers also noted that sparkling wine is beginning to be treated as a real wine instead of simply as a celebratory beverage. Erik Liedholm, head sommelier of Seastar in Bellevue, Washington, cited increased training and selection as key drivers in the trend: “We do these really cool Champagne classes every year, and we have a couple of pages on our wine list devoted to sparkling wine and Champagne. We try to recommend it whenever we can.”

The April issue Poll Report includes a detailed account of these trends and more. It features the Restaurant Top 50—a list of the brands that received the most mentions from participating restaurants. Of those 50, the Top Ten Most Popular Restaurant Wine List Brands of 2014 are:

1. Jordan Vineyard & Winery
2. Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars
3. Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards
4. Duckhorn Vineyards
5. Cakebread Cellars

6. Caymus Vineyards
7. Silver Oak Wine Cellars
8. Kistler Vineyards
9. Veuve Clicquot
10. Chateau Ste. Michelle

The 26th Annual Poll Report appears in Wine & Spirits April 2015 issue, which also features a round up of the best new restaurants and bars in New York City. Both the results of the Poll and these New & Notable Restaurants will be fêted at our annual Top of the List event in NYC on May 11.

The issue will be available at newsstands and bookstores as well as in digital format on March 17, 2015.

Copies of Wine & Spirits’ April 2015 issue featuring the Poll results are available by mail for $9, including postage and handling. Members of the press interested in receiving a review copy of the issue or scheduling an interview with Editor Joshua Greene may contact Samantha Groseth at (415) 770-2146 or sgroseth@wineandspiritsmagazine.com.

Founded in 1982, Wine & Spirits is published eight times a year and read by over 200,000 members of America’s wine community. Consumers and wine professionals read the magazine for information on established and up-and-coming regions and producers, the art and science of viticulture, industry happenings and food and wine pairing. Wine & Spirits, the only wine publication to win the James Beard award five times for excellence in wine writing, evaluates more than 14,500 bottlings every year.

This article is a W&S Web Exclusive.

 photo by Monika Melnychuk