Top 10 Wine Lists in Houston
Photo by Troy Fields Philippe.
Philippe's sommelier Vanessa Trevino Boyd has been hard at work recently, making sure that the wine program she curates remains one of the best in town. She's been hosting a collaborative guest sommelier series that's a steal at only $40 a person, and she's also transformed the ground floor of Philippe into Phil's Wine Lounge, which offers 80 choices by the glass from her fine, French list.
In keeping with her work in the Big Apple, "Trevino Boyd keeps that classic, more reserved New York-style somm service that's not as chummy as Houstonians are used to, but I love it," says Turner. "It's dedicated to what it's doing in the kitchen and pairs very well with the food -- not just wines that are really weird or got 90 points somewhere, regardless of what they're cooking."
"A lot of wine programs go 'Woo, I've got a lot of money, I can do anything!'" says Turner. Not at Philippe, where the wine list is classically structured, thoughtfully curated and captained ably by one of the few female somms in the city.
2. The Pass & Provisions
Photo by Jeremy Parzen A Kir-Yianni Ramnista at The Pass & Provisions.
Plenty of raves are reserved for the intelligent wine list that sommelier Fred Jones has constructed at the whimsical Pass & Provisions. "Fred has such a geeky list, but approachable," says Borel. "Maybe it's because I'm such a geek, but I always find something I love on that list."
Vann gushes that the list is "uncompromising, daring, adventurous, aggressive, esoteric," noting that he loves Jones' list "because in a town where too many wine lists play it safe, [they] are doing something few people are brave enough to do: push people out of their comfort zones. Yes, they have the most sherry by the glass in the city. Yes, they have weird grapes that you haven't heard of and can't pronounce. Yes, they ironically put Miller Hi Life in the champagne cart of the pass. But their wines aren't just cool, they're good. Sometimes those two can be at odds with one another."
Turner specifically cites Jones' approach, which is friendly and encouraging. "I once listened to Fred have a conversation with three women about wine and convinced them to buy a Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley," Turner recalled with a chuckle. "If I had $5 for every time I've seen that happen in Houston, I'd have $5."
1. 13 Celsius
Photo by Katharine Shilcutt 13 Celsius.
It's a nearly unanimous decision that 13 Celsius is still the gold standard for wine lists in Houston nearly 10 years after its owners renovated a 1920s-era Mediterranean-style building which once housed Jenning's Cleaners and Dyeing Shoppe.
Vann calls 13 Celsius "the best wine bar in town" for its "aggressively low markups on an extensive by the glass program that also allows tasting-sized pours." Turner agrees, adding: "Everyone else is playing for second place. Their list is amazing, it's big, it's interesting, it's curated with such love and care. You go in there and speak to anyone who works there and it's like they made that list."
"Mike [Sammons] and Adele [Corrigan] gravitate towards French and Italian selections -- both classic and the freaky stuff," says Vann. "Plus they also have a killer beer list, and it is the best place in town to go knock back a few bottles of Basque Sidra out of the authentic Porron decanter." Adds Turner with an approving laugh: "And they only carry one American Chardonnay on that list."
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1100 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX