Restaurant wine lists in Calgary: The big guns

“We’re lucky here,” says wine and food writer, educator and commentator Linda Garson, referring to the exciting wine menus on Calgary’s fine-dining scene. Several of the city’s high-end restaurants maintain wine lists that are as big a draw as their food. “I call them the big guns, because they go in blazing,” says Linda, who shares her insights on these vino giants here.

Divino Wine & Cheese Bistro

113 8 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2P 1B4

Awarded three stars on the World of Fine Wine 2015 World’s Best Wine List, Divino is just one of five Canadian restaurants to receive this top vino designation and among just 300 worldwide – it’s a huge honour. Located on Stephen Avenue Walk, the New York bistro-inspired restaurant and bar is part of the highly acclaimed Calgary Rocky Mountain Resorts group of eateries. Its list is all-encompassing. It’s got something from everywhere, for everybody. People visit for the wine list.

La Chaumière Restaurant

139 17 Avenue SW, Calgary, AB T2S 0A1

This French fine-dining spot on 17th Avenue Southwest has been collecting for almost four decades. They were the first restaurant in Calgary to have first growths from Bordeaux on the wine list. The restaurant has a policy of purchasing multiple cases of the best wines, so its cellar is stellar. Amazingly, you can order these gorgeous wines at prices that reflect the year they were purchased all the way back to the 1960s.

Bears Den

254028 Bearspaw Rd, Calgary, AB T3L 2P7

A fine-dining establishment on the outskirts of Northwest Calgary, the Bears Den maintains a vast 40-page wine list that has won the Wine Spector Award of Excellence annually since 2005. Renovated in 2014, the restaurant and lounge is a gorgeous setting in which to sip truly great wine while enjoying its contemporary steakhouse menu. It’s really lovely.


200 8 Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2G 0K7

Teatro, in the posh Dominion Bank building on Stephen Avenue Walk, carries vintages going back to when the fine Italian eatery opened close to three decades ago. They buy the same wines every year, from Napa and Bordeaux, and that means they create verticals with a lot of the high-end wines. It’s possible to enjoy vintages of the same wine going back years. That’s their pride and joy – they invested in a great cellar.

Centini Restaurant & Lounge

160 8 Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2G 0K6

A fine Italian restaurant on Stephen Avenue Walk, Centini has a huge and very diverse list. Owner Fabio Centini has really old vintages on his list. They reckon they have over 700 wines. Try choosing one! Also notable, many older vintages are available at very good prices. Many wines are also available in different size formats from half bottles to party-friendly 18-litre bottles.

Vintage Chophouse and Tavern

320 11 Avenue SW, Calgary, AB T2R 0C5

Winner of the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence annually for over a decade, casually elegant Vintage Chophouse in Beltline has plenty of solid vino cred. It has an excellent list, and is quite focused on wines that go with steak. The Vintage cellar also holds plenty of everything else, however. It’s not a competition (officially), but the wine list at this elegantly affable contemporary steakhouse and lounge is a robust 30 pages in length.

“You’ve got to be open minded with chef’s tasting menus,” says Culinaire magazine publisher and Vine and Dine host Linda Garson. These curated meals about discovering tastes and techniques. Also be aware that they’re fine-dining affairs and may have minimum party sizes. Some require reservations, and substitutions are often not possible. Below, Linda recommends some of the city’s most exciting multi-course meals.
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