4 December, 2022, 10:50

Sonoran Restaurant Week: Where the wine at heart should dine

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

Making dinner reservations can be tricky when you’re eating with wine lovers. Or, if you are the wine hound in the group then you know how tough it is to balance those Dionysian sensitivities. With over 100 restaurants participating in Sonoran Restaurant Week this year, here is Tucson Foodie’s guide to keeping the juices flowing as you explore the diversity of menus bound to inspire a toast or two.

Local, National, and Worldwide

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

Wine at Feast (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Wine at Feast (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Zio Peppe features Dos Cabezas WineWorks’ Aguileon, a structured red blend of Spanish and French varieties grown in Wilcox, as well as the winery’s popular Red Blend. Wines from Sand-Reckoner Vineyards, a Wilcox classic, can be found at Locale Neighborhood Italian, El Charro Café, and The Downtown Clifton Hotel’s Red Light Lounge. Charred Pie has Flying Leap Vineyard’s fun Fly Girl White and Scavenger Red, and Falora offers the Aridus Wine Company’s Tank Series red blend.

The Sonoita and Wilcox wine regions have world-class expressions of international wine grapes. Do not be afraid to go for an entire bottle or several glasses for your table.

Haute, Haute, Haute

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

Paella Valencia at Contigo Latin Kitchen (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Paella Valencia at Contigo Latin Kitchen (Credit: Jackie Tran)

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

Always excellent, Agustin Kitchen and Maynards both have beautifully curated wine lists. Each restaurant features an extended reserve list as well, which can be enjoyed with a casual fine dining meal or for outdoor seating.

A pro-tip to make your dining experience extra special:

Ask your server, sommelier, or wine director to pair your prix fixe menu with offerings from their wines by the glass menu. You can lean into their expertise and have a new journey with every course.

The Only Wine Drinker In the Bunch

If you’re sharing the table with imbibers who don’t understand your relish for the chemistry of food and wine pairings, there are several restaurants that have your back.

The magic carpet ride of restaurants for Sonoran Restaurant Week is The Coronet. A sophisticated menu of non-alcoholic cocktails, craft beers, Haute spirits, and signature drinks serves to highlight the New York bistro-quality wine list. This is the perfect place to explore wines by the glass and get adventurous 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 Craft Pizza & Drink is both family-friendly and geared for attuned palates. A compact but impressively chosen list of unique wines is in good company with complex cocktails and delicious local craft beers. Other notable spots include Reforma, which scores extra points for nice wine notes, as well as Ermanos Bar and Commoner & Co., which go out of their way to make sure there are clever wine selections amid ample choices of beers and cocktails.

Off the Wine Road to Adventure

If you are on the down-low about your wine nerd tendencies and are looking for unique experiences that include wine, read on.

As complex as a Rubik’s Cube is The Royal Room. You can enjoy their four-course, prix fixe, with a terrific selection of local and international wines on tap. While you are there, play a board game or sit out back and watch the sunset.

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

Ghini's French Cafe (Photo by Kennedy Williams)

Ghini’s French Cafe (Photo by Kennedy Williams)

Lastly, for a taste of Asian-Sonora, visit Yoshimatsu and its craft sake selection. Although not wine in a traditional sense, the complexity of fine sake will please your palate.

Sonoran Restaurant Week is an amazing opportunity for the wine at heart because all you have to do is pamper your wine palate. Chefs have done the hard work for you by crafting vino-friendly prix fixe menus. Indulge your fantasies and splurge on that special bottle because the prix fixe is on budget. Try something you have never heard of for the same reason. Order a dessert wine with the dessert course or drink bubbles with everything.

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

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

Sariya learned early on that the nose knows. She likes exploring the margins and unmapped areas of her palate and talking to other people about their own. A wanderer at heart, she owns Circo Vino, a USA national importer of wine and spirits.

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