If you are as much of a foodie as you are a wine aficionado, you’ll enjoy viewing who made the cut in Wine Enthusiast’s America’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants. What makes top 100 lists so much fun is seeing which restaurants made the list, but more importantly, recalling a personal memory you had with one of the finalists.
As I drill down the list, it wasn’t surprising to see old time favorites like Daniel, Gramercy Tavern and Le Bernardin in New York, or some of the beloved stomping grounds for many in San Francisco—A16 and Gary Danko. But the one that really resonates for me is Bern’s Steakhouse in Tampa. Why? Because this is where I experienced my first wine epiphany at the tender age of sixteen. My dad drove the family across the country to attend a conference in Florida. One night, the group went to Bern’s for dinner. I remember how excited I was to see the selection of Mouton-Rothschild on the wine list. The only reason why I was familiar with the Chateau is that I had watched a T.V. documentary about the producer shortly before making the trip. The Chateau’s history was quite captivating and my infatuation with Mouton-Rothschild soon drove my mother nuts with my continuous chatter about the winery’s history and prestige.
I begged my father to purchase a bottle. I can’t remember the price, but $135 comes to mind. On a Policeman’s salary, his immediate response was Hell NO! Then my angel, a gracious guy I barely knew but dearly miss, a forensic scientist from New Jersey with impeccable taste and knowledge of luxury, Tom Fiorenza (god rest his soul) ordered a bottle from the sommelier. At such a young age, that special moment resonates as the night that all others seek to achieve. It was only a sip, but it was the most memorable wine I have ever tasted—an epiphany that rivals all wines to rise to the occasion, an experience that has yet to be matched.
Among the Wine Enthusiast’s 100 Best Wine Restaurant list, I bet you have a similar story… Care the share?