Meet the Tastemakers
Uncorking Austin's 7 best restaurants and bars for a fine glass of wine
Whether it's casual fare al fresco or dinner at a fine-dining destination, a great glass of wine is essential to a great meal.
Each year, the CultureMap Tastemaker Awards toasts Austin's best wine programs by highlighting the city's top spots to sip and savor a glass or splurge on a special bottle. Our 2021 nominees for Wine Program of the Year are as unique as Austin, ranging from little east side wine bars to the city's most acclaimed restaurants. Some have been finalists before, and some are nominees for the very first time.
Read about the city's top wine programs below, then join us in person for our signature tasting event and awards program on August 5 at Fair Market. You'll sample bites from top Austin and San Antonio restaurants, sip specialty drinks, and, of course, raise a glass to all our winners. Tickets are on sale now.
The tiny wine bar from local musician and wine aficionado Joe Pannenbacker poured into the Austin scene in 2018 with one goal: to make wine approachable for everyone. Step inside the little East Seventh Street space to sip 10 by-the-glass selections — they change daily — and snack on a curated menu of bites. Feeling adventurous? They'll open any bottle on the list (priced at under $100) if you make a one-glass commitment.
Aviary Wine & Kitchen
If you're looking for a list that's full of personality, head to this South Lamar decor store turned wine bar, where the wine menu sections are named after cultural icons. Order something bubbly from the David Bowie section or go bold with a red from the Steve McQueen section. Oenophiles can now scout Aviary's new virtual wine shop, and let the wine come to you.
Not only does the acclaimed downtown restaurant boast a big selection of mezcal and expertly crafted cocktails, there's also an extensive wine list to pair with the modern Mexican fare. Mexico and Texas are well represented, with sustainable, biodynamic, and organic wines also dotting the list.
Emmer & Rye
A thoughtful list of sparkling, pink, orange, white, and red wines is presented to accompany the acclaimed restaurant's ever-changing seasonal menu. In addition to its regular offerings, Emmer & Rye also tips its hat to women-led wineries from around the globe in a special section of its menu.
This Austin dining institution is a go-to for special occasions, and the extensive wine list is sure to elevate your evening. The list boasts 650 bottles and has been applauded by Wine Spectator for its California, Burgundy, and Bordeaux offerings that pair perfectly with the Clarksville restaurant's classic, fine-dining cuisine.
This East Sixth Street bottle shop uncorked in February 2020, just ahead of the pandemic. The hybrid retail shop and bar offers a large, rotating inventory of natural wines that can be enjoyed offsite or on — now that its patio is back in business. Nosh on savory and sweet bites alongside $8 house wines, or pop the cork on one of LoLo's well-priced bottles, all from independent farmers, importers, and distributors.
Salt & Time
Over the years, the East Austin butcher shop has expanded its footprint and grown into a farm-to-table dinner destination, too, and with dinner comes wine. The limited by-the-glass menu is rounded out by a larger range of bottles, almost all of which are denoted as organic, biodynamic, or sustainable, and many are priced under $75.