HOME > Chowhound > New Orleans >

Discussion

Best Wine List in NOLA

You guys were very helpful a few months ago when I was re-visiting New Orleans. I'm headed back again and need help with the best wine list in town - so winos speak up!!

My friend I'm visiting with is quite the wine expert so I'm not looking for that "small, but interesting" list. I'm looking for depth and rare finds.

Oh yeah, and if the food happens to be stellar at the restaurant, even better.

Cheers!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Surprisingly, and somewhat shockingly, restaurants with very interesting and extensive wine lists (which have exploded in recent time in other cities) haven't really caught on here...that's not to say there aren't nice wine lists here, there just aren't really superdeep and IMHO well-chosen ones. Add to that the tragedy that Katrina wiped out some superlative cellars. The best combination that I can think of for food and wine is probably Cuvee...the food is VERY good, and the wine list, while heavily marked up, is pretty excellent, predictably strong on French.

    Check out at least parts of it here:

    http://www.restaurantcuvee.com/cuvee/...

    A lot of the Brennans' restaurants have large wine lists, but generally they're not particularly inspiring. And if you're looking purely for overwhelming, New Orleans Grill at the Windsor Court has a massive list, but has gotten mixed food reviews. Also you might take your friend to W.I.N.O. or New Orleans Grapevine (if you're staying in the quarter) for something fun and much more casual.

    Good question...weird as it sounds, I think that wine service in the city is currently lagging a bit, now that I think about it. Anyone disagree? I think we really are missing a low-markup, wine-centered high-end restaurant here...that category has exploded in recent years, and would be a perfect fit for a city where everybody seems to drink 2 or 3 bottles with dinner. I mean, look how popular the bad food BYOB places are!

      1. re: nolalawyer

        Late to comment, but we have enjoyed the wine list at Stella!, and have found many to pair with their fare, plus the "sommelier's pairings," have always gone well.

        Hunt

      2. Emeril's has a great wine list (at least according to Wine Spectator).

        http://www.emerils.com/newsroom/310/e...

        4 Replies
        1. re: Bocuse NOLA

          It IS extensive, though I'm not a very good judge of its overall quality. I had dinner there Sunday night, and the list is thicker than a smalltown phone book. One odd thing I noticed was the condition of the binder--it was very well worn, to the point of being tattered at the spine.

          1. re: Hungry Celeste

            HC,

            When we have dined there, we have found that the servers really know the wine list, and understand wine and food pairings - and offer that knowledge with great humor.

            Hunt

            PS - Yes, I know that this is a very old thread, but am responding, should another CH see it, years after the first post.

          2. re: Bocuse NOLA

            >>> at least according to Wine Spectator <<<

            Sad to say, that doesn't mean much.

            1. re: zin1953

              I do agree on the lack of "power" of the WS list, but will say that pre-K, Emeril's had a very good, albeit smallish, wine list. The markups were fair and the selections did reflect well on the fare.

              While I have always had a good time, meal and service (including wines) at Emeril's, I do not think I'd tout it to someone looking for a stellar wine list. Not at all bad, just not as deep and exciting, as I'd choose for such an event.

              Emeril's Delmonico had a better list, by a bit, but still was not something that I'd tout. Good, but not great, and the markups seemed to be elevated over the eponymous restaurant's.

              Hunt

          3. I agree with the recs., that you have gotten. I also agree that wine has been more of an afterthought in too many NOLA restaurants for half a centruy. Also, many with deep cellars lost most of those with Katrina. Even though most FQ spots did not flood, the loss of power and the following heat did a number on many cellars. A very few also took water from destroyed roofs.

            One more that I would add, though with a caveat, is Restaurant August. Their wine list looks very good. I say "looks," because we went with the sommelier's pairings for the full tasting menu. The pairings were horrible and off from the dishes greatly. I still read the list and enjoyed it. Wish I had done the pairings myself. What this shows is that they offer some very good wines, but their full "wine program," is/was suspect. Maybe things have changed.

            GW Fins has a rather well-done list of wines, that go with their fare, and I believe that all are also b-t-g, or they were. No real depth, but some interesting wines, that are not on most diner's "usual suspects" list.

            I also found that Delmonico (Emeril's) had a nice list. The full wine service needed some work, and I tried to be patient and explain what needed to be done. Our server listened and tried, but I think that there was a language barrier at work. List good, but service needing work.

            I used to love the lists at Galatoire's and Arnaud's, but felt that there was a gaping hole in both restaurant's lists. They had all of the "usual suspects," but then there was nothing in the US$100-300 range. They jumped to the rare, old and very, very expensive. If one wanted Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve CA Cab, they could get that. If they wanted something more, they were relegated to a US$1200 btl. of Second Growth Bdx., with some years on it. Both restaurants seemed to have the same mindset, "if the patron wants wine, then they can go with low-end swill, or spend the really big bucks for something noteworthy." Where were the really good wines for people who were not legacies, or on a major expense account?

            One little list that impressed me was Cochon's. It was small, slightly higher in markup than I really like, but very interesting and these wines went well with the food.

            Based on my limited experiences (I am no longer a resident), I'd go with, and in no particular order:

            Restaurant August
            Cuvée
            Stella!

            I'll be doing a report of MiLa & New Orleans Grill (Windsor Court), and will feature comments on their wine lists. Unfortunately, those reviews will not be up for about 2 weeks.

            Enjoy,

            Hunt

            2 Replies
            1. re: Bill Hunt

              Haven't been there in almost a year, but I was impressed with Bayona's wine list, both pre- and post-K. Not the biggest, but over the past five years, it's shown itself to be very well thought out . . .

              1. re: zin1953

                I agree that Bayona's was a good little list and also fairly priced. I had no problem picking three wines, that went well with the food.

                Still, if I was faced with needing to find a spot with a killer list, I'd put them down the list a bit. For our dining and wining (is that a word?), it worked very well.

                I suppose a lot depends on what one is impressed by. Do they want a leather-bound 400 page list, like Bern's, or do they want a well-thoughout list that goes well with the food? If I'm trying to impress, it's a combo of both.

                Hunt

            2. If you love wine.. you should check out WINO. Its a great place on Tchop. They have all their wines..kind of on tap.( Not like beer, but special wine cooler-but same concept) You are able to try tons of wines. They have some appetizers there. Also you could try Delachaise on St.Charles. They have alof of wines there.

              1. I would assume that you know what type of wine list your friend is going to appreciate the most, but I wouldn't ask for the "best" wine list in New Orleans and then state that it can't be "small, but interesting." I know that can be viewed as a rather petty statement, but I feel that too many of us do the same thing. Some of the best wine lists I've seen not just in N.O. but elsewhere are some of the smallest. I look for compatibility with the cuisine, smart pricing, diversity and yes, rare finds. Depth can be overrated, unless, for example, you strictly drink Bordeaux and/or Burgundy and are in to more than just the highly rated vintages. And as mentioned, too many of the lists with "depth" can be very overpriced. Herbsaint and Lilette, are two favorites for rare finds (especially for N.O.) but they are both small to medium length (the latter's wine list presentation needed some work last time I dined there a few months ago.) I recommend Stella!'s wine list as well, but I can't speak to its current condition, the summer usually taking a toll on N.O.'s wine lists. (I should mention that I just recently left a position of many years as the GM/Sommelier of Stella!) What I can speak to concerning Stella! is my replacement whom from what I know and what I've been hearing is doing a great job. After all, what good is a "best" wine list with sub-par wine service.

                1 Reply
                1. re: gmk

                  I strongly agree, regarding the wine service. I've had great lists presented, but then service that was more befitting a bottle of Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve.

                  Also, the number of pages is of little use, if the wines do not pair well with the food from the kitchen. Unless one is just collecting 98pt. wines from someone, it's about putting great wines with great food. As an aside, one little Asian-fusion place in Denver, had a wonderful (and wonderfully priced) list of Cal-Cabs, and blends, but none went with any dish served there. We'd often go, do some small-plates and just drink these wines for themselves. Not something that I normally do.

                  I've also had lists of one typed page, but every wine was a real "winner," with regards to the kitchen's efforts.

                  Hunt

                2. Commander's by far has the best wine list,it's 30 pages of sheer bliss.They have different varietals and all price points for every budget.So everyone can enjoy.Huge French selection and also hard to find wines.If you like wine and food this is the place to dine!!!!

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: amacass

                    Antoine's celler was fantastic before Katrina, I don't know about now though as I moved out of NO a couple of years ago.

                    1. re: bronwen

                      Antoine's cellar used to be quite good. I *believe* that they lost a lot of it with Katrina. However, just pre-K, we were horribly disappointed by the wine service. The available stemware was horrible. Also, our server had no clue, as to wine service. It was a horrible disappointment to us, as this was our "grand tour," of the old-school restaurants.

                      I do wish Antoine's the best, but worry that they are now long past their prime. Maybe they will read some comments, and decide that they CAN reclaim their glory and that it is worth the effort.

                      Hunt

                    2. re: amacass

                      Sounds like an advertisement. Is your last name Brennan?

                    3. To add to this thread, we had a great meal at the Windsor Court - New Orleans Grill (report to follow very soon), and I was impressed by their wine list and wine service.

                      If I were looking to impress, based on a list, this would be one that I would consider.

                      Hunt

                      1. OK, and about 4 years late, but I would look to the "old stand-bys," such as Galatoire's, for real depth.

                        The Grill Room, at the Windsor Court is good too.

                        Hurricane Katrina cost some FQ restaurants their cellars, though the flood waters did not get up that high - the lack of electricity got many, as did a leaky roof at Antoine's.

                        Now, NOLA has never really been a big "wine city," unlike some others. Going back, prior to Katrina, I felt that there was a big hole in many wine lists there. The "low-hanging fruit" was on the list, but then, things got heavy-duty, and in a hurry. Many went from US $125 wines, to US $6,000 wines, with little in the middle.

                        I would never quibble with a DRC, or even a vertical of DRC's, or a rare 1er Cru Bdx., but only if someone else was paying the total tab. I cannot afford such, though I have some in my personal cellar.

                        New Orleans, as a food/wine, destination city, needs to revamp many restaurants' wine lists, and in a big way.

                        Sorry for being so "late to the party," but just rediscovered this thread.

                        Hunt

                        1. Reportedly the list at the newly opened R'evolution is the one to beat now, with 10,000+ bottles and a tablet to search through all of that. Galatoire's has some good, old bottles. Chef Chris Debarr had the funkiest, most interesting list at Green Goddess. He left last month and I'm sure will bring a few interesting selections with him to new location Serendipity in Mid-City.