Cheers to Our 2011 Wine Spectator Award Winners!

Wine Cellar at The River House Restaurant located at Palmetto Bluff.

It’s no secret that this gal is partial to the grape and all it’s wonderfulness. My husband, who easily confesses he never liked wine before our courtship, now regularly relishes a smooth pinot noir in summer as well as a spicy syrah in winter. While I do not pretend to be a wine expert nor an oenophile, I do thoroughly adore tasting wine and even more so creating pairings wine with food. Friends know when they are invited to take a seat at my table for a dinner party I have specifically chosen wines to complement the food I’ve prepared. To me it’s part of the creativity and adds to the fun in planning and executing a delicious meal. Some of the best times in my life include a table full of friends – with glasses full of wine!

Visitors and residents of Hilton Head Island should rejoice that so many local eateries do take their food and wine menus seriously. This year, 11 local restaurants have been recognized by Wine Spectator Magazine for their outstanding wine lists. Three of these, Charlie’s L’Etoile Verte, Red Fish and The River House at Palmetto Bluff received the designation of “Best of Award of Excellence”, a second tier award for establishments that exceed the first tier Award of Excellence requirements with wine lists that display vintage depth or excellent breadth across several regions.

Margaret Golson, a Certified Sommelier under the Court of Master Sommelier, puts much thought and consideration into every wine they choose to serve at Charlie’s L’Etoile Verte. She says, “We have a large selection of vintages and most recently we changed the organization of our wine list to showcase by varietal and juxtapose old world versus new world. For instance, we have some lovely syrah from France. We also do try to support the French feel of the restaurant menu by offering a nice selection of white Burgundies and Rhone Valley reds.”

Wine Spectator is considered to be North America’s pre-eminent source for wine

Hilton Head Island and neighboring Bluffton boasts 11 newly minted Wine Spectator award winners!

enthusiasts. The Restaurant Awards Program, which has been showcased each year in Wine Spectator Magazine since 1981, was created to honor restaurants that show passion for great food and wine. This year 3,734 restaurants worldwide were provided with awards ranging from Award of Excellence to Best of Award of Excellence to its Grand Award. The first tier Award of Excellence is awarded to restaurants that display commitment to a fine wine list, with a sufficient selection of better producers along with a thematic match to the menu in both price and style.

The River House cannot be more pleased to again receive the Best of Award of Excellence and Food & Beverage Director Jeremy Walton tells me, “We’ve worked hard to build several great relationships with both the wine makers and importers. These relationships ensure we have access to a variety of unique and hard to get wines, and allow us to, at times, bring these talented wine makers here to Palmetto Bluff for many of the events in our Music to Your Mouth food and wine dinner event series. He went on to say, “Our wine program is an initiative that we are very committed to and requires that we taste often. This part is not so daunting, but we are happy that we have been recognized for our efforts.”

Congratulations to all 11 award winners! I am happy to say that many of these have been featured here in the Foodie Vibe blog over the past year. Here’s a recap of the 2011 recipients with links to their respective web sites. So you can peruse their menus, wine lists and make your reservation for what you can bet will a fabulous wine selection to complement a remarkable meal. Cheers!