9401 Glenwood Avenue, Raleigh, angusbarn.com
As renowned as Angus Barn’s steaks are, its Wine Cellar—two ridiculously opulent dining rooms with a private staff and kitchen surrounded by one of the best wine collections in the country—might be the pinnacle of fine dining in the Triangle. If you’d rather dial back the extravagance and remain in Angus Barn’s main dining room, however, you’ll still have access to the full wine bottle list—an eighty-nine-page document. (There’s a separate by-the-glass menu, a comparatively slim six pages.) There’s a reason Angus Barn has won the ultra-prestigious Grand Award from Wine Spectator, an honor only bestowed on ninety-one restaurants in the world, thirty years in a row.
117 East Main Street, Durham, barbrunello.com
Esteban Brunello’s sliver of a bar is about 180 degrees from Angus Barn—it’s not a full-service restaurant, dinner won’t cost a month’s rent, and the bottle list isn’t an encyclopedia. Rather, the encyclopedia is Esteban, who knows his wines and curates what he carries as well as anyone. Don’t take that to mean you won’t have options. From sparkling wines to rosés, reds to the coveted oranges, you can drink your way from Slovenia to France, Italy to Portugal.
Bin 54 Steak & Cellar
1201 Raleigh Road, Suite M, Chapel Hill, bin54chapelhill.com
Another high-end steakhouse with an extraordinary wine list, Bin 54 pulls in bottles of all styles from all over the globe. And when we finally hit the lottery and/or print journalism makes us rich—both of which have roughly the same chance of happening—you better believe we’ll be shelling out for the Château Lafite-Rothchild ’10, a French Bordeaux that will only set us back $3,995.
The Fearrington House Restaurant
2000 Fearrington Village Center, Pittsboro, fearrington.com
A fine-dining spot in a former farm homestead, Fearrington House features a limited, three- and four-course menu that rotates as the seasons change. And as the menu changes, the sommeliers work with the chefs to pair wines that will create a transcendent dining experience. There’s a lot to choose from—Fearrington’s wine list has more than fifteen hundred selections from all over the world, and it’s been awarded Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence for the last fifteen years. (That’s one notch below Angus Barn’s Gold Award, but nothing to sneeze at.)
106 South Greensboro Street, Carrboro, glasshalfullcarrboro.com
A wine-centric restaurant, Glasshalfull has an ever-rotating list of twenty-five bottles on its menu—Old and New World sauvignon blancs, Argentinean malbecs, Italian chiantis, and so on. Go on Mondays, when all of those bottles are half off.
401 Foster Street, Durham, piedmontrestaurant.com
The food and craft-cocktail programs at Piedmont—both retooled in early 2018 to make them more accessible to Durham’s growing millennial cohort—are laser-focused on all things local. Out of necessity, however, its award-winning wine program takes a more expansive view. There are more wines by the glass now than there were a few years ago, and they’re generally less expensive and more eclectic selections, too. You’ll find a couple of Tar Heel wines on the menu, alongside French malbecs and Portuguese coreto tintos and Italian dry proseccos.
Saint Jacques French Cuisine
6112 Falls of Neuse Road, Raleigh, saintjacquesfrenchcuisine.com
Way out in the North Raleigh ’burbs, Saint Jacques can go overlooked in local foodie circles. But over the last fifteen years, this fine-dining restaurant has earned rave reviews for its indulgent interpretations of French classics—and no French menu is complete without a stellar wine list. There are a few quick nods to North Carolina here, but after that, it’s all France, from storied Bordeaux to independent wineries, from Burgundy to the Rhone Valley to Beaujolais.
2010 Hillsborough Road, Durham, vinrougerestaurant.com
A Durham landmark that aims to recreate the feel of a southern French bistro, Vin Rouge has long been one of the Triangle’s most acclaimed restaurants (the INDY’s readers named it Best French Restaurant in the Triangle in 2018). Seeing as the name translates to “red wine,” you’d expect the wine lists to be equally noteworthy, and you’d be correct.
Vinos Finos y Picadas Tapas and Wine Bar
8450 Honeycutt Road, #110, Raleigh, vinosfinosypicadas.com
On its website, Vinos Finos proclaims itself the “Best Wine Bar in Raleigh,” which is quite the boast, considering that Vita Vite (see below) has racked up quite a few honors in recent years. But Vinos Finos, in North Raleigh’s Lafayette Village, is a cool little tapas and wine spot. With both food and drink, the focus here is South American, the wine list drawing heavily on Chile and Argentina.
313 West Hargett Street, 200 Park Street at North Hills, #130, Raleigh, vitaviteraleigh.com
Lindsay Rice, a photographer, wine lover, and art enthusiast, opened the first Vita Vite in 2015. (The second, in North Hills, came a couple of years later.) Reflective of Rice’s passions, Vita Vite—the Italian words for “life” and “vine”—is part art gallery, part wine bar, and part cozy space to hang out and have a conversation. The wine list is manageable and smartly curated, with strong selections, especially reds, from France, Argentina, Italy, and the Pacific Northwest.
2018 Best of the Triangle Readers’ Picks: Bar Brunello, Durham County
Glasshalfull, Orange and Chatham Counties
Angus Barn, Wake County