State restaurants lauded for their wine lists

Each year, Wine Spectator Magazine singles out restaurants which it rates as having the best wine lists around the country and world. The 2007 Wine Spectator “Best Restaurants For Wine” this year includes 10 West Virginia eateries.

Eight of the state establishments received an “Award of Excellence” and two others — The Bavarian Inn in Shepherdstown and the Greenbrier Main Dining Room — received the even more prestigious “Best of Award of Excellence” rating. Only 76 restaurants, of the more than 4000 rated by the magazine worldwide, achieved the highest ranking “Grand Award” designation.

Obviously, each of the award-winning restaurants must also produce exceptional cuisine to go along with their well-conceived wine lists. The recognition is a tribute to the culinary skills of the winners in the Mountain State, and we lovers of the vine should do our best to patronize these restaurants. We should also encourage our other favorite restaurants to upgrade their lists and to submit them to the magazine in the future for consideration.

The Bavarian Inn (304-876-2251) has always placed an emphasis on fine wine to go along with their excellent German-inspired menu, but they have taken the list to a new level under innkeeper and wine director, Christian Asam. Christian follows in the footsteps of his mother and father who have been leaders in the hospitality industry in our state for decades. When I served a sentence as State Commerce Commissioner in the early ’90s, I had the pleasure of meeting the Asam’s on several occasions, and have always been impressed with their dedication to providing guests with superb accommodations as well as great food and wine.

What more can anyone say about the crowning jewel of the state’s tourism industry – The Greenbrier – except they have been consistently focused on improving, not only the food and wine at this world-class resort but also the accommodations. The resort recently embarked on a major renovation and facilities upgrade program which included additional dining facilities. I’m looking forward to sampling the fare and liquid nirvana at their new restaurant – Hemisphere (800-453-4858) – where diners will have the opportunity to choose from three tasting menus of either five or seven courses.

So kudos to both the Bavarian Inn and the Greenbrier for receiving the penultimate award from the Wine Spectator!

It is also no small achievement for the other state restaurants whose wine lists and excellent menus have garnered notice from the editors and critics at the magazine. The “Award of Excellence” winners are: The Chop House (344-3954) and Soho’s (720-7646) in Charleston; Lui Lui (295-8028) and Spats (800-262-2536) in Parkersburg; The Glasshouse Grille(296-8460) in Morgantown; Provence Market Café (848-0911) in Bridgeport; Savannah’s (529-0919) in Huntington; and the La Bonne Vie (387-8250) at Mountaineer Race Track in Chester.

While these awards probably won’t change the barefoot and toothless image some snobby outsiders have of us (particularly those flatlanders who think a West Virginia seven-course gourmet meal consists of a six-pack and a chili dog), I think it’s evident we have some pretty good places to sip and sup!


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