New Orleans is a city known for speakeasy cocktail dens and outstanding dive bars. And while we do honky tonk well, oenophiles can easily channel their inner wine geek at impressive restaurant cellars around town. Curated without an ounce of stuffy gravitas, these wine lists are overseen by some of the best sommeliers, not just in town, but in the country. Whether your palate is educated or in need of schooling, ask the sommelier to weigh in. She (or he) will be pleased to help.Read More
The Best Wine Lists in New Orleans
Sip your way through these outstanding collections of vin
1. Clancy's Restaurant
This Uptown Creole bistro offers an impressive list of wines from California, Oregon and France on a list managed by Clancy’s co-owner Brad Hollingsworth. Chosen to pair well with the likes of sweetbreads with Dijon or spaghetti with Bordelaise sauce, from chef and co-owner Brian Larson, many bottles are under $100 (although there are splurges if you so desire). Ask about the romantic upstairs dining room lined with bottles.
2. Commander's Palace
Commander’s Palace remains a gold standard dining experience in New Orleans — but it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Which is why Dan Davis, the sommelier who oversees the impressive 2,600-bottle list, calls himself the “Wine Guy”, and he puts the pleasure of eating and drinking always at the forefront of the diners’ experiences. Davis is especially adept at translating a guests’ questions into the perfect bottle of wine for any occasion.
Always excellent, Herbsaint is the flagship of the Link Restaurant Group and culinary showcase for chef de cuisine David Rouse, formerly of Cochon. The award winning list celebrates New and Old World vintages designed to pair well with chef Rouse’s seasonal French-Southern cuisine. White drinkers will appreciate the beyond Chardonnay variety and the option for half bottles is always a bonus.
Under the direction of wine directors René Sudduth and William Kearney, Galatoire’s brings a vast selection to the storied table, with an 82-page list of close to 1,000 wines, many from the Champagne and Bordeaux regions of France. Choose from 32 offerings by the glass, including moderately priced Argentinian reds and a lovely Sancerre, or ask for guidance in navigating the copious list. If you must bring your own, the corkage fee is $25, two bottles per table and your choice can’t be on the existing list.
5. Restaurant R'evolution
Known for an always provocative (and pricy) menu of Louisiana Cajun and Creole cuisine from chefs John Folse and Rick Tramonto, Restaurant R’evolution is definitely no slouch in the wine department. Wine director Steve Russett oversees the ambitious wine list with 2,000 selections, many chosen from the seven nations that originally settled Louisiana. For a real wow, dine in the custom-built glass and wood wine cellar surrounded by 10,000 bottles.
Winner of Wine Spectator’s “Grand Award” for 14 consecutive years, Emeril’s boasts a fabulous cellar of nearly 1,900 selections and 10,000 bottles collected by Master Sommelier Ray Gumpert, now the restaurant’s G.M. He has passed the torch to sommelier Taylor Terrebonne, who is on his way to becoming M.S. certified. Celebrate in grand style with private dining for 12 in the restaurant’s wine cellar, with its wine cask ceiling and walls of spectacular wine.
7. NOSH (New Orleans Social House)
This cool date night gem ticks all the romance boxes and has a fab wine list to match the chef’s inventive small plates. NOSH is a spot where the Corivin system delivers premium wines by the glass. Ideal for the wine lover who doesn’t always get the opportunity to try expensive wines. Corivin was actually invented by a couple of doctors who used a surgical needle to penetrate the cork, which allows the wine to be poured without the bottle ever being opened. Get a tasting pour of three ounces from fancy bottles like Far Niente chardonnay, Caymus cabernet sauvignon, and Gaja brunello Di Montalcino.
Brennan’s wine director Braithe Tidwell leads a mostly female team that oversees a vast 14,125 bottle-cellar, including an impressive number of options priced at $70 and less. With a depth of choices from Burgundy to salute the city’s French history, the list pairs gorgeously with chef Slade Rushing’s inventive Creole cuisine. There’s private dining in the cellar, which was originally a carriage house and stables.
9. The Grill Room
If perusing a swank wine list fills you with oenophile envy, then Grill Room sommelier Bill Burkhart has the antidote. Even if you can’t afford a $400 bottle of Heitz 2005 Martha’s Vineyard Cab, the Grill Room uses the same Coravin wine preservation system as NOSH, allowing select bottles to be ordered by the glass while leaving the rest of the bottle intact. The system keeps the cork in the bottle, using a thin hollow needle and argon gas to protect the wine from oxidation. There’s lots of magnums on this smart list too.
Sure, this swell champagne bar on the edge of the Quarter has boatloads of bubbly and cocktails made with sparklers - more than 210 bottles and 32 by-the-glass pours for your pleasure. But wine is also a focus, with 210 bottles on the list, 32 by the glass, curated by owner Crystal Hinds and front of house manager Edouard Majoie, who hails from the Champagne region of France. Although Effervescence offers some big ticket bottles like a 1.5 liter of Inglenook Rubicon cab sav for $700, most bottles are in the $50 to $70 range. Chefs Brenna Sanders and Evan Ingram also cook up enchanting bites and small plates.
11. Bacchanal Fine Wine & Spirits
Although always big fun, don’t forget that this Bywater outdoor music party is also home to a darn fine wine store and seriously good eats. The Bacchanal team favors Old World-style wines from smaller producers, selections that truly reflect particular regions’ terroirs. The up-front store is organized by region. Select a bottle and some charcuterie to be enjoyed in the backyard picnic area. Two free wine tastings are offered every month — check the website for dates.