THE CATEGORIES

Wine List of the Year 

While the World’s Best Wine Lists Judges seek to highlight exceptional lists in some 19 different categories, in order to provide clarity, definition, and a fair basis for assessment, there are always some lists that stand out as being of unparalleled excellence. The Global Category Winners are all contenders for the title of Wine List of the Year, for which the competition is always intense.

Best Long Wine List

➤ The World’s Best Wine Lists is the first such awards program to acknowledge the crucial importance of a good wine selection regardless of size. But there is clearly the potential for greater breadth and depth in longer lists, and this category of Best Long Wine List assesses those that feature more than 500 wines (at 75cl bottle-size). These longer wine lists enable sommeliers to set out collections of wine that have been made over many decades in some instances, featuring in-depth selections and providing a comprehensive choice of wine regions, styles, and grape varieties. They are the restaurants that every wine lover would want to visit for a special occasion and as often as possible, in order to explore the variety of wines on offer. Judges consider the criteria of breadth, depth, height, balance, selection, accuracy, originality, suitability, design, and value when reaching their decision.

Best Medium Wine List 

Four of the World’s Best Wine Lists categories are based on the size of the offering in order to reach a fair assessment. The category of Best Medium Wine List includes lists that feature between 200 and 500 wines (at 75cl bottle-size). A list of this size indicates that those responsible have been building their selection and can really plumb the depths in particular wine regions, styles, or grape varieties. The size of the list provides the wine lover with the opportunity to explore a list with depth and variety. Judges consider the criteria of breadth, depth, height, balance, selection, accuracy, originality, suitability, design, and value when reaching their decision.

Best Short Wine List  

Shorter lists can be even more challenging to judge than longer lists. The category of Best Short Wine List includes lists that feature between 100 and 200 wines (at 75cl bottle-size). With a list of this size, those responsible are having to make very clear selections and set out their ambitions and priorities. While the list can still include depth in particular wine regions, styles, or grape varieties, the focus is sharper. The wine lover becomes engaged with the choice as if in conversation with a friend. Judges still consider the criteria of breadth, depth, height, balance, selection, accuracy, originality, suitability, design, and value when reaching their decision.

Best Micro Wine List

 The World’s Best Wine Lists recognizes excellence in even the smallest lists, those with vinous ambitions well above their size. The category of Best Micro Wine List includes lists that feature fewer than 100 wines (at 75cl bottle-size) or no more than four pages. Some lists may still focus on particular wine regions, styles, or grape varieties, but every wine has to earn its place and the conversation is even more intimate. Judges still consider the criteria of breadth, depth, height, balance, selection, accuracy, originality, suitability, design, and value when reaching their decision.

Best By-the-Glass Wine List with Coravin® 

 By-the-glass offerings in bars and restaurants around the world have been expanding rapidly in recent years. Different technical solutions are available to support this evolution, ensuring that wines are kept in good condition down to the last glass, but above all it is the Coravin® preservation system that has radically transformed this section of wine lists all round the world. The criteria for assessing this category, however, remain the same, including breadth, depth, height, balance, selection, accuracy, originality, suitability, design, and value.

Best By-the-Glass Wine List with Coravin® 

 The offer of wine by-the-glass in bars and restaurants around the world has become an increasingly important way of engaging wine lovers, enabling them to explore the thrilling variety of wine, which has never been greater than it is today. While the huge potential of the Coravin® preservation system is very widely recognized, many bars and restaurants still offer wine by-the-glass using other systems or none at all, some sommeliers having an ideological preference for seeing a particular bottle consumed all at once on a particular occasion rather than extending its life over a period of weeks or months. In order to judge the Best By-the Glass Wine List without Coravin® category, Judges apply the same criteria as for other categories, including breadth, depth, height, balance, selection, accuracy, originality, suitability, design, and value.

Best Champagne & Sparkling Wine Selection 

➤ The World’s Best Wine Lists recognizes specific styles that are sought by wine lovers around the world. The category of Best Champagne and Sparkling Wine List highlights lists that focus almost exclusively on this rapidly expanding range of wines or that have a particularly strong selection within a broader offering. The successful lists demonstrate a deep understanding of sparkling wines and a clear vision of what makes for a great selection across the criteria of breadth, depth, height, balance, selection, accuracy, originality, suitability, design, and value

Best Designed Wine List 

➤ The categories for the first few editions of the World’s Best Wine Lists centered on the ambition, innovation, and passion of the restaurateur or sommelier in selecting interesting and varied wines. It soon became apparent to the Judges, however, as they studied hundreds of lists every year, that one aspect that significantly affected the ability of a guest to enjoy the process of wine selection was the appearance, clarity, and navigability of the wine list itself. All too often, design is the Achilles heel of otherwise good or great lists. The Best Designed Wine List category was therefore added to celebrate and promote those restaurants that put the proper effort, time, and thought into the format of their wine list, including everything from the font, font size, and layout, to the organizing principles, whether those be color, country, region, style, price, or some other consideration. Although all Category-Award Judges assess and return their ratings for Design, they are fortunate to have expert insight from their colleague Alder Yarrow, who has a background as a high-level professional designer

Best Dessert & Fortified Wine Selection  

➤ The World’s Best Wine Lists recognizes specific styles that are sought by wine lovers around the world. The category of Best Dessert & Fortified Wine Selection. This category acknowledges lists that have an impressive range, depth, and selection of these richly varied wine styles, which can have their place at any stage of a meal.

Best Hotel Wine List  

Many of the world’s best restaurants are in leading hotels around the world, with settings as diverse as beachside villas, wildlife lodges, or snow-covered mountainside chalets. The Best Hotel Wine List category is dedicated to these. As with many restaurants, the focus is often on the pairing of the wine and the food, but the particular setting, often reflecting the personal taste of the owner, is perhaps even more important. These lists are assessed by the same criteria of breadth, depth, height, balance, selection, accuracy, originality, suitability, design, and value.

Best New Wine List 

 Each year new restaurants become established and with them new wine lists are submitted for assessment. The Judges of the World’s Best Wine Lists have decided that, as new cellars take some time to be developed, it would be fair to establish a category for the Best New Wine List. The sommeliers compiling these lists are likely to make stimulating and clear selections. Judges consider the criteria of breadth, depth, height, balance, selection, accuracy, originality, suitability, design, and value while taking into account the requirement for development.

Best Regional Wine List (in the Region) 

➤ For many bars and restaurants, there is a growing and very legitimate desire on the part of the owners and sommeliers to champion the wines of their region. This category of Best Regional Wine List in the Region enables the Judges to celebrate those establishments that build close relationships with neighbouring wine producers, exhibiting an intimate knowledge of the region’s history and terroir and promoting local produce, both food and wine, as the stars of the show. The successful lists offer unparalleled depth in the wines of the country or region and a strong focus on local grape varieties, enabling wine lovers to engage as fully as possible with the region. While these lists promote a particular country or region, Judges still consider the criteria of breadth, depth, height, balance, selection, accuracy, originality, suitability, design, and value.

Best Sake Selection (outside Japan)

➤ The World’s Best Wine Lists recognizes the growing global appreciation and availability of sake. The Best Sake List outside Japan category highlights the lists that focus almost exclusively on sake or have a particularly strong selection of sake within a broader offering. Knowledge of sake among restaurateurs and sommeliers around the world is growing rapidly, alongside the appreciation of Japanese culture, cuisine, and design. Despite the different origins, raw materials, and production techniques of sake and wine, the sake sections of lists are judged by the same criteria of breadth, depth, height, balance, selection, accuracy, originality, suitability, design, and value.

Best Spirits Selection

➤ The World’s Best Wine Lists acknowledges the exciting quality and range of spirits from all round the world, and their ability to heighten the beginning or end of a memorably special meal. The category of Best Spirits List recognizes those establishments that go beyond the rest in their spirits selection. Despite the different origins, raw materials, and production techniques of spirits and wine, the spirits sections of lists are judged by the same criteria of breadth, depth, height, balance, selection, accuracy, originality, suitability, design, and value

Best Value Wine List 

➤ It is not possible to put a price on the joy of visiting some of the best restaurants and bars in the world, whether they are large or small, city centre or local neighbourhood establishments. However it is possible to make some assessment of the value for money represented in different wine lists. The Judges of the World’s Best Wine Lists have decided that, in order to extend the joy of exploring wine lists to all comers, it would be fair to establish a category for the Best Value Wine List. The sommeliers compiling these lists are having to juggle a range of considerations that impact on value and it is not always straightforward. The Judges continued to bear in mind the other criteria of breadth, depth, height, balance, selection, accuracy, originality, suitability, and design, while assessing for value.  

Best Wine Bar List 

➤ Wine bars around the world are a precious part of today’s wine culture, even if it is hard to reach a hard and fast definition, and even if the boundaries between bars and restaurants may often be blurred. The World’s Best Wine Lists adopts as a working definition of wine bar an establishment where it is possible and usual to order only a glass or two of wine, and where the focus is squarely on the wine list, even if it will always be possible to have complementary food of some kind. With wine bars increasingly doubling as retail outlets, their lists are perhaps shaped by the preferences of their customers to an even greater extent than are those of hotels and restaurants. As with the generally larger restaurant settings, these lists are assessed by the same criteria of breadth, depth, height, balance, selection, accuracy, originality, suitability, design, and value.

Most Original Wine List 

➤ The Most Original Wine List category showcases lists that have an unusual selection of wines or a particular personality that shapes them. The successful lists demonstrate not only a profound understanding of the wines, but a clear vision reflecting the experience and passion of their creators. The World’s Best Wine Lists criteria of breadth, depth, height, balance, selection, accuracy, originality, suitability, design, and value still apply when making an assessment, but originality clearly assumes a higher importance

Best Cruiseline / Ship List  

➤ Cruise ships are the epitome of luxury travel, providing respite from a busy schedule and the opportunity to relax and unwind. A highlight of any voyage is the food and drink provided on board. The conditions of sea travel provide challenges for wine storage and service, and the sommeliers and restaurant teams that manage to maintain a high-quality wine experience deserve recognition. The category of Best Cruise Line / Ship Wine List enables Judges to highlight the most outstanding wine lists of vessels large and small. As with other restaurant settings, the lists are assessed by the criteria of breadth, depth, height, balance, selection, accuracy, originality, suitability, design, and value.