Wine Spectator has a new competitor when it comes to granting awards to wine lists, as London-based The World of Fine Wine has introduced a new three-star rating system and announced the companies that made the cut.

A panel of judges chaired by World of Fine Wine editor Neil Beckett reviewed 4,000 wine lists from throughout the world and gave 750 of them ratings of one, two and three stars. Only 225 restaurants were given three stars, including 36 in New York City — the most of any city. London came in second, with 16 three-star restaurants.

Among New York’s three-star restaurants is Hearth, which was also named by WFW as the restaurant with the best wine list in North America.

Beckett said he hoped the rankings would set a new standard for wine lists.

“We hope that they offer a refreshing new approach and will be seen as the industry benchmark for many years to come,” he said. “They are the first awards to acknowledge the importance of a good wine selection, as distinct from a massive compilation, in the modern dining experience all over the world.”

Both Wine Spectator and The World of Fine Wine require that restaurants apply for the award, although Wine Spectator charges $250 for it; WFW does not charge a fee.

The U.S.-based publication currently lists 2,791 winners of its Award of Excellence and 74 winners of its Grand Award. Among the criteria are that Award of Excellence winners offer at least 100 wines and that Grand Award winners “typically offer” 1,500 selections or more.

Apart from Beckett, WFW’s panel of judges included contributing editor Andrew Jefford, sommelier Gerard Basset, wine columnists Francis Percivel and Elin McCoy, Singapore Wine Review publisher Ch’ng Poh Tiong and Champagne expert Tom Stevenson.

Apart from “breadth and depth of the range” of each wine list, the judges also based their rankings on “creativity, relevance to the cuisine, personality and price,” according to World of Fine Wine’s web site.

The judges also identified the best lists by region, best dessert and fortified wine lists, best by-the-glass wine list, best short wine lists, best airline wine list and assorted “jury awards” for distinctive wine lists. In North America those awards went to Gramercy Tavern, Hearth and Marea in New York; Michael Mina in San Francisco; Pix Pâtisserie in Portland, Ore.; and Press in St. Helena, Calif.

Palais Coburg Residenz in Vienna won the award for best wine list in the world.

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Contact Bret Thorn at bret.thorn@penton.com.
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