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22 Restaurants With Best Value Wine Lists in the US

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Here's a list of some of the best value wine lists across the country, both large and small, old and new. Some of these lists are classics, and many of them are off the beaten path, but all of them defy the accepted norm for restaurant wine list pricing. As it stands, the standard wine list markup is three times the wholesale price of any given bottle. Of course, markups vary from list to list and even within a list (where the lower-end wine can see higher markups, and the higher-end, lower markups).

But this list is about the exceptions. Take, for example, Bern's Steakhouse in Tampa. Its 220-page, five-pound list full of fine and rare wines priced below retail has long been a sort of mecca for wine nerds. But the cheap and deep business model that Bern's has become synonymous with has become increasingly difficult to sustain; most of the restaurants that once embraced this model have either closed or their stocks have been ravaged.

But there are some that continue to defy the odds, and others that embody a different kind of value wine list, like Vinegar Hill House in Brooklyn whose idea of value is having great, off-the-beaten path wines in the $20 range. Other examples include Pix Patisserie/Bar Vivant in Portland, OR with 150 Champagnes all with very slim markups; Becco in New York with its "Reserve list"; and Anthony's Pier 4 in Boston with its unlikely selection of vintage Burgundy wearing 1990s pricing.

All the restaurants below have been chosen not just for value, but the overall quality of the selections. There are still plenty more hiding throughout the country, so if you have a restaurant you think should be added, please do leave your suggestions in the comments.
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Pix Patisserie/Bar Vivant

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[Photo: Avila/Eater PDX]

Ambonnay

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Ambonnay is a close second behind Pix when it comes to Champagne destinations on a budget. They happen to be in the same city, but both are worthy of this list. This is the first wine bar to focus only on Champagne and sparkling. The markups on bubbly are some of the lowest in the country and the selections strike a smart balance between growers and big houses. [Credit: Ambonnay]

New Sammy's Cowboy Bistro

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[Photo: Yelp/Monica T.]

Vinegar Hill House / Hillside

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One-stop shop for off-the-beaten-path natural wines mixed with and affordable mix of well-edited classics. The draw here isn't a deep cellar, it's the slim markups across the board and the consistently strong list of wines under $50, with many dipping down into the $20 range. [Photo: Krieger

Alta remains one of Manhattan's best-kept secrets. The cellar, maintained by Christopher Chestnutt, is home to some of the best back vintage deals on Rioja stretching back to the 1950s, most of it priced well below retail. The list is also owns a rock solid selection of back vintage wines from Tuscany and Piedmont blended in with newer releases of great wines under $75. You can drink very well around $50 here, but the sweet spot is in the $75-200 range where you'll find great wines with decades of age for prices you just don't see in this city anymore.

[Photo: Becco ]

Eleven Madison Park

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[Photo: Krieger/Eater NY]
[Photo: Gilt]

Crabtree Kittle House

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This is an old school list in the best sense. Manned by wine director Glenn Vogt, who has spent two decades building the list. All the classics from France, Italy, and California at reasonable prices, with plenty of values on the lower end that will be candy for the trained eye. Go with someone who can sniff it out and pillage.

The American Hotel

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Another classic that's been frequented by the linen-clad Sag Harbor crowd for ages. Prices are low and the cellar is deep. The wine list covers 85 pages, 1,700 selections, and 30,000 bottles. It's a journey, but one that will offer rewards on the low end and high end alike. Think Burgundy, Bordeaux, and German riesling. [Photo: The American Hotel]

Heirloom Café

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[Photo: Justin Lewis/Eater SF]

If you want to drink back vintage Napa wines, this is the best wine list in the country for it. Kelli White, the former head sommelier at Veritas, one New York’s deepest, primarily European wine lists, and Scott Brenner, the former wine director at Aureole in NYC, took over the list in 2010 and have since grown it from 250 to 1,200 selections—800-900 of which are cabs—stretching back to the 1950s. It’s now the finest repository of old Napa wine in the world and most of the prices are kept right at retail, so you can drink deep with $150 to spend. [Photo: PRESS]

Passionfish

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This may be the best midsized wine lists in all of the Central Coast both in terms of selection and price. The mark ups are between 50-80%, rather than the standard 300%, which means that most of the wines are at or below retail pricing. The selections weave through some of European esoterica, the classics, and California's new counter culture. There's a strong focus on natural wines from the Loire and beyond as well as Champagne and German Riesling.

Terroni

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Terroni has all of things we associate with a great wine list: compatibility with the food menu, vintage depth, etc. But it also has smarts, magnetism, and very fair prices both by the glass and bottle. It remains one of LA's best, and most value-driven lists. Ask for guidance and be adventurous. [Photo: Terroni]

Upstairs 2

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Upstairs 2 is the restaurant situated right on top of the massive LA wine store, The Wine House. The wine list is short and well priced, but the real kicker is the restaurant's liberal policy with corkage. Buy any wine from the shop downstairs and bring it upstairs. Corkage is $10. [Photo: Upstairs 2]

Bern's Steak House

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[Photo: Wikimedia Commons]

Lotus of Siam

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[Photo: Lotus of Siam/Eater Vegas]

Eastern Standard Kitchen & Drinks

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[Photo: Flickr/NathanF]

Anthony's Pier 4

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Anthony's Pier 4 is a Boston institution that's become more of a granny hang out than a wine hang out. But those in the know are hip to the deep cellar, which offers a grip of vintage Burgundy at 1990s pricing. Outside of Burgundy there's a strong riesling collection and a number of surprisingly quirky surprises from all over. And for those looking to do the Napa thing, head for anti-cult wines with age. [Photo: Anthony's Pier 4]

Pappas Bros. Steakhouse

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[Photo: Pappas Bros Steakhouse]

Bleu Provence

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A big, and surprisingly savvy list full of gems from the Loire, Jura, Burgundy, and southern France and beyond. The list is almost more enticing on the low end, where you'll find wines from small, traditional producers from the Old World with some time in bottle, priced well below standard. The small, but killer selection of Beaujolais—much of it with age and priced like Beaujolais never got big—is worth a visit alone. [Photo: Bleu Provence]

Blackberry Farm

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Blackberry Farm is a luxury resort in Tennessee's Smoky Mountains. While there's lots of beauty and all that, one of the big draws is the wine list, helmed by sommelier Andy Chabot, which is among the best in the country. There's impressive amount of depth and incredible value throughout the list, even on the low end, where you can find things like back-vintage, village-level Bourgogne blanc and rouge from top producers for pennies on the dollar.

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Pix Patisserie/Bar Vivant

[Photo: Avila/Eater PDX]

Ambonnay

Ambonnay is a close second behind Pix when it comes to Champagne destinations on a budget. They happen to be in the same city, but both are worthy of this list. This is the first wine bar to focus only on Champagne and sparkling. The markups on bubbly are some of the lowest in the country and the selections strike a smart balance between growers and big houses. [Credit: Ambonnay]

New Sammy's Cowboy Bistro

[Photo: Yelp/Monica T.]

Vinegar Hill House / Hillside

One-stop shop for off-the-beaten-path natural wines mixed with and affordable mix of well-edited classics. The draw here isn't a deep cellar, it's the slim markups across the board and the consistently strong list of wines under $50, with many dipping down into the $20 range. [Photo: Krieger

Alta

Alta remains one of Manhattan's best-kept secrets. The cellar, maintained by Christopher Chestnutt, is home to some of the best back vintage deals on Rioja stretching back to the 1950s, most of it priced well below retail. The list is also owns a rock solid selection of back vintage wines from Tuscany and Piedmont blended in with newer releases of great wines under $75. You can drink very well around $50 here, but the sweet spot is in the $75-200 range where you'll find great wines with decades of age for prices you just don't see in this city anymore.

Becco

[Photo: Becco ]

Eleven Madison Park

[Photo: Krieger/Eater NY]

Gilt

[Photo: Gilt]

Crabtree Kittle House

This is an old school list in the best sense. Manned by wine director Glenn Vogt, who has spent two decades building the list. All the classics from France, Italy, and California at reasonable prices, with plenty of values on the lower end that will be candy for the trained eye. Go with someone who can sniff it out and pillage.

The American Hotel

Another classic that's been frequented by the linen-clad Sag Harbor crowd for ages. Prices are low and the cellar is deep. The wine list covers 85 pages, 1,700 selections, and 30,000 bottles. It's a journey, but one that will offer rewards on the low end and high end alike. Think Burgundy, Bordeaux, and German riesling. [Photo: The American Hotel]

Heirloom Café

[Photo: Justin Lewis/Eater SF]

PRESS

If you want to drink back vintage Napa wines, this is the best wine list in the country for it. Kelli White, the former head sommelier at Veritas, one New York’s deepest, primarily European wine lists, and Scott Brenner, the former wine director at Aureole in NYC, took over the list in 2010 and have since grown it from 250 to 1,200 selections—800-900 of which are cabs—stretching back to the 1950s. It’s now the finest repository of old Napa wine in the world and most of the prices are kept right at retail, so you can drink deep with $150 to spend. [Photo: PRESS]

Passionfish

This may be the best midsized wine lists in all of the Central Coast both in terms of selection and price. The mark ups are between 50-80%, rather than the standard 300%, which means that most of the wines are at or below retail pricing. The selections weave through some of European esoterica, the classics, and California's new counter culture. There's a strong focus on natural wines from the Loire and beyond as well as Champagne and German Riesling.

Terroni

Terroni has all of things we associate with a great wine list: compatibility with the food menu, vintage depth, etc. But it also has smarts, magnetism, and very fair prices both by the glass and bottle. It remains one of LA's best, and most value-driven lists. Ask for guidance and be adventurous. [Photo: Terroni]

Upstairs 2

Upstairs 2 is the restaurant situated right on top of the massive LA wine store, The Wine House. The wine list is short and well priced, but the real kicker is the restaurant's liberal policy with corkage. Buy any wine from the shop downstairs and bring it upstairs. Corkage is $10. [Photo: Upstairs 2]

Related Maps

Bern's Steak House

[Photo: Wikimedia Commons]

Lotus of Siam

[Photo: Lotus of Siam/Eater Vegas]

Eastern Standard Kitchen & Drinks

[Photo: Flickr/NathanF]

Anthony's Pier 4

Anthony's Pier 4 is a Boston institution that's become more of a granny hang out than a wine hang out. But those in the know are hip to the deep cellar, which offers a grip of vintage Burgundy at 1990s pricing. Outside of Burgundy there's a strong riesling collection and a number of surprisingly quirky surprises from all over. And for those looking to do the Napa thing, head for anti-cult wines with age. [Photo: Anthony's Pier 4]

Pappas Bros. Steakhouse

[Photo: Pappas Bros Steakhouse]

Bleu Provence

A big, and surprisingly savvy list full of gems from the Loire, Jura, Burgundy, and southern France and beyond. The list is almost more enticing on the low end, where you'll find wines from small, traditional producers from the Old World with some time in bottle, priced well below standard. The small, but killer selection of Beaujolais—much of it with age and priced like Beaujolais never got big—is worth a visit alone. [Photo: Bleu Provence]

Blackberry Farm

Blackberry Farm is a luxury resort in Tennessee's Smoky Mountains. While there's lots of beauty and all that, one of the big draws is the wine list, helmed by sommelier Andy Chabot, which is among the best in the country. There's impressive amount of depth and incredible value throughout the list, even on the low end, where you can find things like back-vintage, village-level Bourgogne blanc and rouge from top producers for pennies on the dollar.

Related Maps