A wine cellar is a work of art. (Photo: Jennifer Yin, Creative Commons)

The Wine Spectator awards are officially announced, and five Chattanooga-area restaurants have been given the Award of Excellence.

St. John’s Restaurant, 212 Market, Bald Headed Bistro, Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Easy Bistro & Bar all won the honor locally.

Every year, restaurants from all over the world submit their wine lists to qualify for one of three prestigious awards that are only given to a select few. The awards are divided into three categories: the Award of Excellence, the Best of Award of Excellence and the Grand Award.

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According to Wine Spectator, the submitted list for the awards must:

  • Present complete, accurate wine information
  • Include vintages and appellations for all selections, including wines available by the glass
  • Include complete producer names and correct spellings
  • Consider the overall presentation and appearance of the list

I spoke with some of the local winners, and I couldn’t be more proud of the diversity each one of them offers Chattanooga.

212 Market has won the award yearly since 1999. Sally Moses from 212 Market described her wine list as “ever-changing with some old-friendfavorites.”

“We work hard to offer really great wines at every budget, from half-off wine lists on Tuesdays to daily pairings with seasonal local foods,” Moses said.

Josh Carter, wine director and owner of St. John’s, said his restaurant carries roughly 400 wines.

“Many are wines that are eclectic but absolutely amazing,” he said. “We try to take the time to make small regions and producers household names in Chattanooga. We carry many California and French producers that you may know and recognize.”

Carter also said St. John’s hopes to win the Best of Award of Excellence next year.

Easy Bistro & Bar won the Award of Excellence for the first time this year.

Chef Erik Niel, owner of Easy Bistro & Bar, said their wine list is “a chef’s wine list. It reflects my preferences just as much as my menu reflects my food preferences.”

Niel said wine is an integral part of the dining experience and that all the wines on their list are chosen for their ability to be part of and enhance the dining experience at Easy Bistro.

“Above all else, it is a food-friendly wine list,” he said.

Michelle Richards is a certified sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers. Along with hosting wine tastings for local organizations, she serves up wine goodness at St. John’s Restaurant. You can contact her by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.

Updated @ 12:34 p.m.on 7/24/15.

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