Sometimes, the wine makes the meal. And while dining looks different these days, our Tastemaker Award nominees for Wine Program of the Year ensure that you can still savor a glass, whether you're enjoying a socially distanced meal on their patio or your own.
This year's nominees run the gamut from funky neighborhood spots to fine-dining destinations, and their lists depict a similar range, from small and approachable to big and bold. One even has a new wine club you can join.
Read about five places where wine is meant to be sipped and savored below, then tune in on July 23 at 7 pm as we reveal the winner during our first-ever Tastemaker Awards — Virtual Edition. It's our way of celebrating the extraordinary spirit of the Austin restaurant and bar scene during this challenging time. Tickets to the virtual event are on sale through July 19 and include a Tasting Tote featuring bites, sips, and more to enjoy at home.
Aviary Wine & Kitchen
The home decor store turned wine bar has a list that's full of personality, with sections named after cultural icons. Choose from a tidy list of wines by the glass, get funky with a bottle from the Frank Zappa section, or select a sultry red from the Etta James area. Whatever you land on, sip it al fresco on the patio with light bites from the kitchen.
Currently: Aviary is offering limited patio seating; reservations are required. Pickup and delivery are also available.
Bufalina owner Steven Dilley, named one of Food & Wine’s 2017 sommeliers of the year, has built a robust list that pairs perfectly with the restaurant's signature pies but is also worthy of its own spotlight. To that end, the restaurant has launched Bufalina Wine. Oenophiles can shop online for a specific bottle or join the wine club, which offers three tiers of packages, ranging from easy drinking "no-brainer bottles" to those that are truly meant to be savored.
Currently: Bufalina is open for takeout only, Wednesday through Sunday.
Emmer & Rye
The star of the Austin dining scene is doing a summer pop-up right now — Emmeroni's, a take on red sauce Italian. There's a fun and affordable selection of Italian wines to pair with meatballs, mozzarella, and fresh pasta, all of which are available to-go or on the patio. The full wine list still available, too, if you're in the mood for a Pinot Blanc or a chilled red.
Currently: Emmer & Rye is open for outdoor seating, serving the Emmeroni's menu through August. Emmeroni's is also available for takeout.
Unsurprisingly, this Austin dining institution has an incredible selection of wines, many of which you might reserve for a special occasion. The award-winning list features 650 bottles, and Wine Spectator applauds bottles from California, Burgundy, and Bourdeaux — perfect complements to Jeffrey's dry-aged prime beef and other classic dishes.
Currently: Jeffrey's is open for dinner with contactless service. To-go is also available.
Wine that pairs with "hot weather food" — what could be more apropos right now? The tiny South Austin restaurant is a perennial favorite, and its magical wine garden — which reopened earlier this month — is an ideal space to sip a glass alongside seasonally appropriate small plates or mains. The list offers a healthy selection of sparkling, white, rosé, and orange options, all of which will keep you refreshed amid the summer heat.
Currently: Lenoir is open for limited outdoor dining by reservation only; parties are limited to four guests.