Top 10 Wine Lists in Houston
Along with Kata Robata, Uchi sets the bar in Houston for pairing sushi with wine -- a difficult task, as noted above. At Kata, you'll find a section of Steven Salazar's wine list devoted entirely to solid sushi pairings with what Vann calls "legendary choices like Domaine Sigalas Santorini, or Huet Sec Vouvray." And at Uchi Houston, Vann notes: "David Keck is an invaluable resource. He convinced the restaurant group to participate in 'Summer of Riesling,' which is genius for sushi joints."
6. Pappas Bros. Steakhouse
Photo by Jeremy Parzen Steven McDonald, the new sommelier at Pappas Bros. Steakhouse.
"When you've got a billion dollars, you'd better have a great wine list," jokes Turner. The famously wealthy wine cellar at Pappas features more than 40,000 bottles -- or roughly $5 million worth of wine. "When you want to spend serious money on a bottle of red wine, this should be your first choice," says Vann. "It's really quite simple: a massive, cavernous cellar, tended to by some of the best sommeliers in town. Their markups are beyond reasonable. And even in the absence of Drew Hendricks, who helped push the list over the edge into Spectator Grand Award territory, they are savvy with geeky wines too, not just the classics."
Photo by Paul Sedillo Justin Vann of Oxheart.
"Oxheart's list is great, and especially when you start talking about a list that lets its own ego go," remarks Turner. Chef Justin Yu's dazzling food is never overshadowed by the wines that Vann picks, although the wines themselves are typically unusual choices. Right now, for example, Vann is doing a daring all-white pairing with Oxheart's four- and seven-course dinners. "It stays very much in line with what they're doing in the kitchen, which is what a wine list should always do," says Turner. "It's just the wonderful frame in which that food is shown."
4. Backstreet Cafe
Photo by Paula Murphy Sean Beck of Backstreet Cafe and Hugo's.
Backstreet Cafe has two heavy-hitters backing up its wine list in Marc Borel and Sean Beck, and it shows. Beck's motto there is that "wine is not an extra or a luxury, but a necessary part of healthy living and a critical ingredient in helping food taste its best." To that end, the list has something for everyone -- perfectly geared toward the diverse clientele that crowds the old River Oaks house and its lush patio. "Backstreet's list is great in that if you and your wine geek buddies want to go and have something to eat, and drink something really new and cool and groovy, [Beck's] probably got it," says Turner. "If your aunt from Kansas City comes to town and all she wants to drink is Cakebread, they've got that too."