I love wine. I love red, white, rosé, sparkling—you name it, I’m into it. And there’s never been a better time to drink wine in the Twin Cities. We have an incredible, diverse group of wine distributors, selling to more and more adventurous restaurants. If you love wine, too, I know you’ll be at the Minnesota Monthly Food & Wine Experience—either the Grand Red Tasting on March 2 or the main event on Saturday and Sunday, March 3 and 4. (Use the code JASONFW25 to get 25 percent off tickets to any of those events!) But bookmark this list, and tell me what I’m missing in the comments!
The Surprise Hidden Gems for Wine:
Cafe Latte Pizza/Wine Bar: Bryce Quinn loves wine and sells everything by the glass at a crazy value. Right now he’s got a MacPhail Pinot Noir for $15/glass (only 91 barrels produced!) and a Latta Roussanne 2013 from Columbia Valley for $12! Nuts!
Red Cow: Great wine at a burger joint? Say thanks to sommelier Jason Kallsen—huge selection by the glass, great focus on serving at the right temperature, great food wine.
Red Wagon Pizza: I’ve written about Scott Anderson’s wine list at Red Wagon before. Everything is available by the glass. Great value and variety here.
Blackbird Cafe: GM Sarina Garibovic is from Croatia, and her list brings some of her home to south Minneapolis. Greece, Austria too—lots of surprises here.
Joan’s In the Park: Susan’s the chef, Joan’s the host, and Joan’s eye for wine is spectacular. The bar is cozy, but just ask Joan what she’s drinking and thank me later.
Lyn 65: One of the best wine lists in the suburbs: A Super Tuscan and Negroamaro by the glass for $10-$11! The fantastic Mark Hebart Champagne bottle for $85!
Ngon Bistro: This is a list designed for the fabulous food at Ngon. Very small, focused, from top-notch (largely small) producers.
Lake & Irving: A white and red on tap, Carneros Pinot Noir by the glass, and a great Oregon Riesling—this list is all about quality and value (bottles are all $35-$60).
Rincon 38: Another tight and value-oriented wine: How about a $22 Gros de Manseng French White? For a bottle! A $36 rioja rose! A great $40 bottle of Tempranillo!
Revival: Fried chicken and wine? YES! Nick Rancone’s love of wine manifests itself in a great list, plus a custom-blended Treveri sparkling Gewurztraminer ($30 bottle).
The Big-Name, Big-Somm Iconic Wine Lists:
Alma Cafe & Restaurant: I’m not sure anyone’s better at pairing wine with food than Alma’s James Hirdler. Every time I eat there, the wine pairings give me so much joy. There’s a small bar in the restaurant, too, where you can pull up a chair and enjoy wine by the glass.
The Bachelor Farmer: There’s a good reason Erin Rolek was named to Food & Wine’s list of best somms: Her list is tightly focused on Northern climate wines, at all price points. Watch my WCCO story on Erin.
Spoon & Stable and Bellecour: Nico Giraud was amazing as the wine director at Meritage, and he’s bringing his sensibilities to these two great restaurants. Spoon has more American/New World wines, Bellecour has one of the best French wine lists I’ve ever seen. Including lots by the glass.
Corner Table: Laurie Hefner has done an incredible job picking up the mantle from owner Nick Rancone. Both have an eye for unusual wines. Your trust will be rewarded with magic!
Monello: Italian glory! Don’t miss the White Timorasso, described as “A rare varietal from the Piedmont that delivers an umami hit like a secret handshake” Just $15!
Meritage: The list is 32 pages, and two of them are wines by the glass. The oyster/wine bar always makes me feel like I’m in a square in Europe.
The New Generation of Great Wine Lists
St. Genevieve: The spot for bubbles. Brie Roland not only brings interesting Champagnes, but other sparkling wines available by the glass.
”‹Martina: Morgan Lent has put together an exciting global list, heavy on South American and Iberian wines appropriate to pair with the Argentinian food.
Grand Cafe: This list is so good. Half pours of Sherry, beautiful Gruner by the glass, five French reds including a Mouvedre and Mondeusse!
”‹Gyst Fermentation Bar: The most interesting wine list in town with lots of natural wines, including a crazy French Sauv Blanc.
Terzo Wine Bar: The best Italian list around—Charlie Broder has incredible taste in wine—sits at that bar. Just ask them to bring you something cool.
Borough: I love the beer and cocktails here, but holy moly the wine list is spectacular too. From the glorious Leah Jorgensen Cab Franc from Oregon to great French côtes-du-rhône.
The Best Steakhouse Wine Lists
Manny’s: I love Manny’s bar. Get that Rombauer, Caymus, and Beringer—but also check out a Ridge Zin or a Miner Oracle.
Gianni’s: Chef Steven Vranian picks the wine, and goes way beyond California with deep dives into Italy, Spain, and island regions bursting with minerality.
Burch: Huge Pinot Noir selection, but don’t skip the dozen white wines available by the glass
St. Paul Grill: No one else has a vertical of Harlan (at about $1000 a bottle), but we normal people can enjoy a great by-the-glass selection like Willamette’s Alexana Chard ($15).