With all the buzz around craft beer and artisanal cocktails these days, less people may be choosing restaurants based on a great wine list. And let's face it, wine can be intimidating. Aside from the worry that the sommelier will make you feel like an idiot, there's the price tag.
A $30-50 (or more!) risk for a bottle that you might not like — or worse, your date might not like — amounts to a roll of the dice for many diners. Why bother when craft beers or a cocktail let you avoid the embarrassment and try more options for a lot less money?
But sometimes, you just want to balance a great steak with a hearty red or oysters with a minerally Chablis. Whether it's a business dinner or a meal with your girlfriend's parents, there are a few local restaurants with wine lists that offer great options without a significant investment.
PRO TIP: In Indianapolis, if you don't finish your bottle of wine, you may legally carry it home. (Just don't violate any open container laws.)
Recess, the fine-dining rock star, and its more casual, a la carte brother Room Four, boasts one of the best — and most extensive — wine lists in town. Helmed by veteran Indianapolis chef Greg Hardesty, the list reflects his own appreciation of wine and is priced to make it easier to choose that second (or third) bottle. Whether you like French stalwarts or South American Malbecs, beginners and wine lovers alike will find something new to try.
4907 N. College Ave., 925-7529, recessindy.com
The Libertine Liquor Bar
Certified sommelier Lindy Brown's talent shines in discovering hidden wine gems and pricing them affordably. Even with the outstanding crafted cocktail list, the lengthy wine list is what keeps winos coming back. Look for an especially good selection of sparkling wines and roses.
38 E. Washington St., 631-3333, libertineindy.com
St. Elmo Steak House
This classic steakhouse is the place to go if you want to order a fine, aged Bordeuax with your ribeye or a large format bottle of California Cabernet to impress a group. Dave Poore's list reflects some terrific old world and new world wines, but bring your expense account budget and a solid knowledge of vintages since you will want to know exactly what you're getting for the money. If you do drop some coin on wine, make sure you ask for a tour of the wine cellar.
127 S. Illinois St., 635-0636, stelmos.com
When Cerulean opened, their wine list was awkwardly mismatched to the high quality of food coming from Chef Caleb France's kitchen. However, a year has seen a dramatic improvement with a few familiar favorites and some higher quality options if you're willing to go off the beaten path. They feature a nice list of desert wines to pair with Pastry Chef Peter Schmutte's creative work.
339 S. Delaware St., 870-1320, ceruleanrestaurant.com