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Where to take a wine connoisseur to dinner in Phoenix?

I'm entertaining someone who fancies herself quite the wine connoisseur. I would like a place that would provide not only an interesting and varied wine list, but the service and food to back it up.

Would Quiessence be a good choice?

Other recs?

Thanks.

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Quiessence
6106 S 32nd Street, Phoenix, AZ 85042

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  1. I'm not at a wine connoisseur, but maybe FnB? She may find the novelty of the Arizona wine list to be fun/interesting...

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    FnB
    7133 E Stetson Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

    8 Replies
    1. re: crsin

      Exactly what I was going to suggest. And if it doesn't live up to her expectations (which will likely be, none), there's always Kazmierez next door with a list deeper than one could ever hope for.

      1. re: azhotdish

        Hmm, I've been to FnB and was not really impressed with their food. Albeit it was only one visit.

        KazBar, I'm afraid, is too much winebar and not enough restaurant.

        Need a real, full meal. Tasting menu if at all possible. Reason I mentioned Quiessence was because I was thinking something like their Brick Oven Table would be ideal, or something along those lines.

        1. re: ipsedixit

          Cowboy Ciao and Kaz share the same wine tome (much more than a list), though, my experiences with the food there have been uneven.

          Tarbell's, a nominee for best wine service in this year's round of Beard Foundation voting, might also be worth considering.

          And while NOCA's list isn't extensive, I've found their wine offerings to be fairly interesting and to pair extremely well with their food--not an accident, I'm sure.

          Finally, I know that the owner of Caffe Boa in Tempe fancies himself to be something of a wine expert, but I haven't eaten (or drunk) there recently enough to know how well he lives up to his own hype.

          edit: Forgot to "mange my links" or whatever before posting, but I reckon you can find both NOCA and Tarbell's without a map.

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          Cowboy Ciao
          7133 East Stetson Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

          Caffe Boa
          398 S. Mill Avenue, Tempe, AZ 85281

          1. re: hohokam

            Would second the recommendation for NOCA or Tarbell's. Both have excellent wine programs. They both have also recently been supplementing their btg selections with some higher end choices. They also have good half bottle selections.

            The list at Cowboy Ciao can be a bit overwhelming and hard to navigate unless you know what you want.

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            Cowboy Ciao
            7133 East Stetson Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

            1. re: Desertdoc

              Bourbon Steak and Binkley's

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              Binkley's
              6920 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek, AZ 85331

              1. re: jsaint

                Binkleys is the best!

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                Binkley's
                6920 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek, AZ 85331

            2. re: hohokam

              Oops, missed this post. I think that I just mirrored much of what you said, but you said it first!

              Hunt

        2. re: crsin

          Have not been, and have not seen the details of their AZ wine list, BUT just returned from a tour of the Sedona area and the Oak Creek wine country. We knew Dos Cabezas and Calaghan down south, and greatly appreciate their wines, but were surprised by what is being produced in Oak Creek. We bought 3 mixed cases and joined one "wine club" as we were impressed.

          Going back 10 years, we hosted a wine dinner. The opening wine was the Dos Cabezas' Viognier. This went head to head with two Condireus , that cost 150% and 250% more, but was the winner. Not bad for an AZ white vs some of the most venerable Rhône Viognier.

          Gotta' try FnB, to see for myself.

          Hunt

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          FnB
          7133 E Stetson Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

        3. We went to Quiessence last time I was in PHX (thanks for the tip, Rubee!). The meal was extraordinary; the wine program was fine, but definitely not compelling enough to pique the interest of a true connoisseur. The list is comprised of a few dozen all-domestic bottles, including a handful from AZ. Nearly all the wines are significantly more casual than the food, with the standard markup of a few hundred percent. Nothing on the list grabbed my eye as a truly remarkable find.

          I haven't been to Sassi since the chef change, but I remember being impressed with their cellar a few years ago. In addition to the standard list, they have an older vintages list with a lot of interesting finds. The markup struck me as pretty severe, but the quality and quantity were definitely there. Again, I haven't been since the chef change, but at the time I was absolutely floored by the quality of the chow, easily the best Apulian-style meal I'd had in the States.

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          Sassi
          10455 E Pinnacle Peak Pkwy, Scottsdale, AZ 85255

          Quiessence
          6106 S 32nd Street, Phoenix, AZ 85042

          4 Replies
          1. re: finlero

            finlero,

            Thanks for the feedback on Quiessence. I'm less concerned with the variety or depth of the wine list and more of how the wine program (and the wines selected) paired with the food courses. Any thoughts on that aspect?

            I'll check out Sassi - thanks.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              http://www.quiessencerestaurant.com/f...

              I'm an old world kind of dude, and have no serious wine chops, so please take this with a grain or twelve of salt, but some things I'd mention here:

              * As a rule, any list with descriptive blurbs for each item probably indicates they don't have a dedicated sommellier in house.

              * The whites are reasonably diverse, but the vast majority of the reds fall into the merlot/cab/pinot buckets. The list is also really CA-heavy, which is a minor pet peeve of mine.

              * You may already know this, but just to say it, by-the-glass wine pairings for a tasting menu are a notorious haven for plonky wines. They may flatter the food, but they probably won't impress someone who considers herself a wine nerd. My best tasting menu experiences have often involved selecting a lighter bottle for early on, then a bolder bottle for later, and enjoying how the same wine plays off different dishes in different ways. The really top-notch restaurants will even select the tasting menu courses based on the wine you've ordered.

              Again, the list is anything but bad, but IMO it wouldn't be on my short list of wine destinations in the Valley.

              1. re: finlero

                "As a rule, any list with descriptive blurbs for each item probably indicates they don't have a dedicated sommellier in house."

                May or may not be the case. I have no idea. But they *REALLY* like describing things over there.

                1. re: Dmnkly

                  So true, especially with the food. The staff took so long to describe some of the dishes that I was worried they would get cold.

          2. Maybe the obvious choice is to hit Sportman's, drive 5 minutes west and go to Coup des Tartes?!

            1. If they like Italian wines, go to Grazie in old Scottsdale for the best import list

              1. Christopher's, noca and Vincent's all have very good wine programs and the food to back it up. You might give thought to calling one of the choices to talk about your dinner plans, discuss menu & wine pairings. I like to get a "feel" for the people I'll be dealing with and this first step may be helpful.
                Good Luck on your upcoming dinner.