Where wine at heart should dine

The 10-day celebration takes place from Friday, September 9 to Sunday, September 18

Making dinner reservations can be tricky when dining with wine lovers. Or, if you’re the wine dog in the bunch, you know how difficult it is to balance those Dionysian sensibilities. With over 100 restaurants participating in Sonora Restaurant Week this year, here’s Tucson Foodie’s guide to keeping the juices flowing while exploring menu diversity meant to inspire a toast or two.

Local, national and global

It warms the heart to see Sonoran wines available at several restaurants that also offer American and international wine selections. A prominent Sonoran wine champion with a nationally recognized wine list, Feast offers wine to go through its on-site retail shop and take-out menu.

Wine at the feast (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Zio Peppe Features Dos Cabezas WineWorks’ Aguileona structured red blend of Spanish and French varietals grown in Wilcox, as well as the popular red mix. Wines from Sand-Reckoner Vineyardsa Wilcox classic, can be found at Local Italian Quarter, El Charro Cafeand The Red Light Lounge at the Downtown Clifton Hotel. charred pie has The Flying Leap Vineyard fun Stealing Girl White and red scavengerand Farora offer the Aridus Wine Society tank series red mix.

The Sonoita and Wilcox wine regions have world-class expressions of international wine grapes. Don’t be afraid to opt for an entire bottle or several glasses for your table.

High, High, High

If your dining experience calls for a more formal evening with just the right wine, there are several carefully curated wine lists to create the harmony you seek. To Contigo Latin Food, the staff is competent. Ask them to recommend the perfect bottle from their internationally inspired list.

Paella Valencia at Contigo Latin Kitchen. (Jackie Tran)

Paella Valencia at Contigo Latin Kitchen. (Jackie Tran)

Tito & Pep’s a diverse selection, with an emphasis on intentionally grown wines, includes versatile gems from Austria to Arizona that can be grown biodynamically, organically or sustainably. Chief John Martinez is directly involved with wine selections so you can be sure the menu will work well with almost any wine.

Always great, Augustine Kitchen and Maynard both have beautifully curated wine lists. Each restaurant also offers an extensive reserve list, which can be enjoyed with a casual gourmet meal or for outdoor seating.

A pro tip to make your dining experience even more special:

Ask your server, sommelier or wine director to pair your prix fixe menu with offerings of their wines by the glass. You can rely on their expertise and experience a new journey with each lesson.

The only wine drinker in the group

If you’re sharing the table with drinkers who don’t understand your taste for the chemistry of food and wine pairings, several restaurants have your back.

The restaurant magic carpet for Sonoran Restaurant Week is The crown. A sophisticated menu of mocktails, craft beers, premium spirits and signature drinks serves to highlight New York’s bistro-quality wine list. This is the perfect place to explore wines by the glass and embark on an adventure with additional beer and cocktail pairings.

Keila Herrington of The Coronet (Photo by Anna Smirnova)

Keila Herrington of The Coronet (Photo by Anna Smirnova)

Reilly artisan pizza and drink is both family-friendly and suitable for discerning palates. A compact but impressive list of unique wines is in good company with complex cocktails and delicious local craft beers. Other notable places include Reformwhich scores extra points for nice wine notes, as well as Ermanos Bar and Commoner & Co.who go out of their way to ensure there are clever wine selections from a wide selection of beers and cocktails.

Off the Wine Road to Adventure

If you’re aware of your wine nerd tendencies and looking for unique experiences that include wine, read on.

As complex as a Rubik’s Cube is The royal bedroom. You can enjoy their four course prix fixe, with a superb selection of local and international wines on tap. While you’re there, play a board game or sit in the back and watch the sunset.

Steakhouse P.Y. at Casino Del Sol serves Flying Leap’s Almond cake made with eponymous Arizona brandy from local wine grapes. Ghini’s French Cafe offers wine flights (smaller pours of several different wines served together) to accompany their soul-satisfying French menu. Monterey Court Cafe has an eclectic selection including some natural wines. Enjoy live music and artisan shops after your evening on the terrace.

Ghini's French Cafe (Photo by Kennedy Williams)

Ghini’s French Cafe (Photo by Kennedy Williams)

Finally, for a taste of Asia-Sonora, visit Yoshimatsu and its selection of artisanal sakes. Although not wine in the traditional sense, the complexity of a good sake will please your palate.

Sonoran Restaurant Week is an incredible opportunity for wine at heart, as all you have to do is pamper your palate. The chefs have worked hard for you designing fixed price menus tailored to the wines. Indulge your fantasies and splurge on that special bottle because the fixed price is within budget. Try something you’ve never heard of for the same reason. Order a dessert wine with dessert or drink bubbles with everything.

Stay curious, fellow wine travelers, you can experience a new adventure every day during Sonoran Restaurant Week.

For more information on all participating restaurants, visit sonoranrestaurantweek.com.

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