St. Louis wine menus with something to talk about
Bored of drinking your same old wine on your same old couch? Venture out to peruse one of these restaurant wine menus. With some, you can even bring that wine back home.
For the past 19 years, Annie Gunn’s has won Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence – the longest run for any restaurant in Missouri. With a wine menu that’s roughly the size of the Torah, it’s hard not to think of Annie Gunn’s first when it comes to noteworthy wine lists. What you might not know is that in addition to its 35-page wine menu featuring nearly 1,000 entries, the gem of Chesterfield also carries around 45 wines by the glass at all times. The best part is every wine by the glass can be sampled.
Fun fact: To wine director Glenn Bardgett’s knowledge, Annie Gunn’s wine list is currently the only one in the U.S. featuring all 10 Cru Beaujolais (single-village wines that are stylistically similar to the better-known and higher-priced Burgundy). “It was a challenge of mine that I started about 10 years ago,” Bardgett said. “I’ve always loved them, but I’d never seen all 10 on a list.”
16806 Chesterfield Airport Road, Chesterfield, 636.532.7684, anniegunns.com
With an all-Italian wine list, Acero’s lengthy menu covers all of Italy’s famous wine regions, including favorites such as Chianti, Barolo and Brunello. What really sets the menu apart, though, is that it also features wines that aren’t seen very often outside of Italy, such as some fantastic whites from Collio, the lesser-known northeastern Italian wine region that hugs the border of Slovenia. Another plus about the menu is its range in pricing: If you love a Barolo and want to spend $400, there’s one of those for you. But if you love Barolo and want to spend something more along the lines of $60, there’s one of those too.
A final thing we love about Acero’s menu: the quartino. If you’re one of those people who never thinks your wine glass is big enough (who doesn’t?!), you will love the quartino. Instead of a standard 6-ounce pour, a quartino is one-third of a bottle, or a glass and a half.
Fun fact: Acero is currently running a special offering patrons 40% off wine bottles under $200 when they add a bottle to their takeout order.
7266 Manchester Road, Maplewood, 314.644.1790, acero-stl.com
Vicia’s bottle inventory reflects the restaurant’s commitment to sustainable farming, with most of its wines being made with minimal to no manipulation. But to take that ethos further, now the restaurant’s other mission – being zero waste – has also become a part of its wine program. Since reopening its dining room, Vicia has been serving a three-course tasting menu where patrons can add on sommelier-selected wine pairings. “The wine pairings have become so popular that not a lot of people were ordering other wines by the glass,” explained Kara Flaherty, beverage director for Vicia and Winslow’s Table. When a guest would order a glass of wine that wasn’t part of a wine pairing, often a few days would pass before someone else ordered that same wine, meaning the open bottle had become too old to serve. The restaurant felt this didn’t hold true to its no-waste ethos, so it expanded the selection of wines available through its Coravin system (a way of opening wine that enables you to pour without uncorking the bottle, keeping the wine fresh much longer) to its entire inventory, which offers between 55 and 60 bottle options.
Fun fact: Vicia has a featured winemaker and/or region every month that reflects the restaurant’s current seasonal menu.
4260 Forest Park Ave., St. Louis, 314.553.9239, viciarestaurant.com
The Side Project Cellar
Good news for the oenophile whose friends prefer beer: Side Project Cellar has a legitimately good wine selection. The list is highly curated: There are only two reds, two whites and one rosé, which feels like a pro move; even if a lot of people aren’t ordering wine, at least you know that the uncorked bottle they’re pouring your glass from wasn’t last opened in 1998. Manager Laura Therina explained, “We keep our wine list pretty small because we are aware that most guests are coming in for Side Project beer, but we try to keep the wine list as exciting as it can be for guests that are coming in for the purpose of drinking something other than Side Project and Shared beer.”
Therina and co-manager Roilen Ivester put together wine lists that provide a lot of choice within a slim format. “We like to give people the choice between light-bodied wines, full-bodied wines and wines from different regions and countries,” Therina said. Within that format, the selection rotates often. Each option we tried was fabulous, and the Cellar makes clear that it knows exactly how to store and serve wine, listing the temperature at which each is served on its menu just as it does its beers. “As popular as Side Project beer is, we like to be known as a beer, wine and whiskey bar,” Therina said.
Fun fact: The Cellar almost always has one blend on its menu; last month’s was a Stem Rosé cider, a blend of off-dry cider and red wine. While the idea of blending anything with wine is a bit controversial, if you’re going to try it, you might as well do so at a place you can trust to pick an excellent one.
7373 Marietta Ave., Maplewood, sideprojectbrewing.com/pages/the-cellar
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