Wine & Spirits' 27th Annual Restaurant Poll Results

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For 27 years Wine & Spirits Magazine has polled America's most popular restaurants to understand the on-premise wine market in its present state. Below shows a sneak peak into this year's results.

"People are more reluctant to throw down for a big bottle, but they're still buying really good glasses,"

The results of Wine & Spirits Magazine's 27th Annual Restaurant Poll are in. And one of the biggest trends noted this year is an increase in the sale of wine via pairings and tastes rather than bottles. "People are more reluctant to throw down for a big bottle, but they're still buying really good glasses," says Louis Moskow at 315 Restaurant in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

When diners order wine by the glass, they're hoping to taste something new. That phenomenon has continued to gain momentum since the economic crash of 2008, when the concentration of well-known brands in poll responses gave way to less-expensive discoveries. This year, US wines dropped to 42.6 percent of the most popular wines in restaurants, reflecting the strength of the dollar at the close of 2015. Today, what's new is often something from the Old World.

Cabernet, the variety of choice in recent years, has given some ground to rich reds from Europe. Italy raced to 19.7 percent of the most popular wines in restaurants, its highest level in the history of the poll. And, as Ryan Fletter of Barolo Grill points out, Tuscan wines continue to dominate diners' choices. "A lot of Italian reds offer structure but not richness, and that's where Super Tuscans come in. If people usually drink American reds, that's where you can bridge the gap with something Italian."

Spanish wine also reached its highest level in the 27 years of the poll, doubling in one year to a 7.5 percent share of the most popular wines in restaurants. Arthur Hon at Sepia in Chicago told us, "I love Spain for the American palate. With riper fruit, more showy and supple, it's a good transition to drinking something with an Old World perspective." La Rioja Alta came in at an astonishing fourth place on the Restaurant Top 50—the list of the brands that received the most mentions from participating restaurants—the highest placement any Spanish wine has achieved. In fact, the top of the Top 50 is more diverse than ever, with some longtime residents holding their place as many newcomers arrive to these heights.

At the top of that list, the Top Ten Most Popular Restaurant Wine List Brands of 2015 are:
1. Cakebread Cellars
2. Jordan Vineyard & Winery
3. Merry Edwards
4. La Rioja Alta
5. Marchesi Antinori
6. Duckhorn Vineyards
7. Lucien Crochet
8. Caymus Vineyards
9. Justin
10. Silver Oak Wine Cellars

The 27th Annual Restaurant Poll Report appears in the April 2016 issue of Wine & Spirits. That issue also features the W&S NYC 50, the best places to eat and drink in New York City right now. Both the results of the Poll and the W&S NYC 50 will be fêted at Wine & Spirits' Eighth Annual Top of the List event in NYC on April 21.

The issue will be available at newsstands nationwide on March 15, 2016.
Copies of Wine & Spirits' April 2016 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

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