Paul has been exploring wine as a hobby for 20 years, and he earned his Introductory Sommelier pin through the Court of Master Sommeliers in 2018. By day, Paul serves as a Senior Vice President & Advisor at FirstPerson, which helps employers with benefits, compensation, and strategic human resource solutions.
The Top 8 Spots for a Glass of Wine in the Indy Region
Over the past few decades, the Indianapolis region has made tremendous strides toward becoming a foodie destination. Our local food and drink scene is already vibrant, with international flavors and innovative restaurants. And every year, it continues to grow with delicious new dishes and eateries from Hoosier entrepreneurs.
In fact, four Indy restaurants were named semifinalists in the 2020 Restaurant and Chef Awards from the James Beard Foundation. The James Beard Awards are essentially the Oscars of the food world. And that recognition proves that the world is starting to take notice of Indy’s culinary creators.
Best of all, a vibrant food scene comes with a wide array of wines! This is welcome news for our community’s expanding palate because it’s increased both the quality and quantity of available wine options. Yes, please!
Indy has restaurants made for wine lovers and connoisseurs.
As a wine lover myself, I’m always in search of a great glass. So, when I go out, I look for a few key elements that make a restaurant stand out. Those factors are diverse wine options, food that complements, a great environment, and good service to complete the experience.
For me, “diverse options” might mean a large selection of wines. But it can also mean a smaller, well-curated list with both wines you recognize and ones beyond the core wine regions. Our local restaurants here in Indy have done a great job curating lists that will wow any drinker—no matter their budget or knowledge of wine. And of course, our Hoosier Hospitality helps make every experience special.
So, here’s my list of the top spots in the Indy region for a great glass of wine! From downtown Indianapolis to the surrounding suburbs, there are plenty of places for an amazing night out.
1. St. Elmo Steak House
My credibility would be shot if I didn’t start with the nationally renowned St. Elmo Steak House. At this restaurant from Indiana-based Huse Culinary, you’ll come for the shrimp cocktail and stay for their exceptional wine selection. With over 30 pages of wines on the menu, you’ll have no trouble finding a drink you’ll love!
St. Elmo’s delivers on many of the wines you’d typically expect to see at a steakhouse. You can pair your dinner with a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon or an Australian Shiraz (also known as Syrah). But why not try something new? I’m a big fan of Cabernet Franc. And they offer a great one in the 2013 Cabernet Franc from Spring Valley Vineyards in Walla Walla, Washington.
Just southeast of downtown, you can visit Fletcher Place and Holy Rosary, a historic Italian neighborhood in Indianapolis. There, you’ll find Bluebeard, a restaurant that Chef Abbi Merriss launched back in 2012. Merriss is one of the best chefs in the Midwest, and she’s been nominated for a James Beard Award for five consecutive years. Under her leadership, Bluebeard has become an award-winning restaurant and a local favorite.
Sometimes, the food even takes the lead—leaving the wine as just a complement! But that rings true for Merriss and her great culinary team. Either way, I recommend putting your visit in the hands of their staff. At Bluebeard, they can help you pair your wine by the glass for each unique course. And trust me. They know what they’re doing. So, you’ll have a culinary experience you’ll not soon forget!
Fellow Somm and co-founder of Beholder, Josh Mazenowski is a man who knows his wine. He and his team at Beholder makes dining fun, with adventurous and sometimes whimsical food. And his wine program has gained national attention for its wide variety of selections.
In 2018 and 2019, Wine Enthusiast magazine recognized them as one of America’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants. Then, in 2020, they were a James Beard Foundation semifinalist in Outstanding Wine Program, a highly competitive and coveted recognition. In their words, Beholder’s wine program specializes in small wineries and salt-of-the-earth winemakers. So, my recommendation is simply to ask for Josh and allow him to serve as your guide. You will not be disappointed.
4. Late Harvest Kitchen
The Late Harvest Kitchen is a restaurant that combines locally sourced ingredients with globally influenced dishes. Chef and owner Ryan Nelson has built a great following by serving delicious food in an upscale yet casual locale. And their outdoor dining area is a great feature that transports you far away from the retail mecca around it.
But what I love most about LHK (as the locals call it) is the diversity of their wine selection. Chef Nelson is always rotating the menu with fresh, new wine offerings for his guests. A go-to pick for me is their private label Late Harvest Zinfandel. Or you might get lucky and visit when they’re also offering their Late Harvest Chardonnay. Both of those wines are created in partnership with winemakers on the coast of California—with Chef Nelson’s oversight and food pairings in mind. Pro tip: sit at the bar, order their off-menu bar burger, and wash it down with a glass of LHK Zinfandel.
Another hit restaurant from Cunningham Restaurant Group, Provision sits just down the road from LHK in the new Ironworks Hotel. Owner Mike Cunningham seems to have dialed in on the recipe for success. So, when he opens a new restaurant concept, you know it’ll be a winner! The Ironworks Hotel is worth a visit on its own. But Provision adds to the hospitality experience with fresh, locally sourced food.
Their wine selection offers some of the best varietals from the most renowned wine regions of the world. A great bottle on their menu is the 2018 Patient Cottat Sancerre, a crisp and minerally Sauvignon Blanc. But I suggest going right to the “white and reds of the world” on their menu and just getting adventurous! Thumbs-up to their beverage director, who’s curated a cannot-miss wine selection that takes the guesswork out of your visit.
6. Wine Vault
The Wine Vault is new on the Indy scene, but they’re already a popular place for wine flights and tastings. The Vault is located in a historic building in downtown Westfield that was once part of the Underground Railroad. So, if you’re in the area for an event at the Grand Park Sports Campus, a visit to this new hot spot would be a great play!
I also suggest trying their Blind World Tour if you want to be a sommelier for a day! Owner Andy Durnell offers a five-glass flight with two white and three red wines—without telling you anything about them. This blind tasting gives you a fun chance to flex your deductive tasting skills and wine knowledge. If that isn’t your speed, they also feature an extensive selection of wines by the glass and by the bottle. Their wine menu features a great balance of both old and new world wine regions. So, order a charcuterie board and stay a while, taking in the ambiance of their historic building.
Do you love the foods and flavors of Italy? Then, Convivio is the ideal place for your next dining experience. Convivio offers two locations in the idyllic Indy suburbs, including one in Zionsville and one in Carmel. With over 25 wines by the glass and a focus on Italian wines, you cannot go wrong with their pairings.
Italian wine is actually made to be consumed with food. Luckily, Convivio’s menu offers a delicious variety of artisanal pizzas and pastas made fresh. And their open kitchen allows guests to see the staff in action while they cook your meals! While you watch, you can take the time to find your new favorite wine. I suggest the 2015 Borolo from Oddero in the Piedmont region.
8. Vino Villa
Finally, if you head south of Indianapolis to Greenwood, I recommend visiting Vino Villa for a meal! The Villa is located in a newly renovated historic home right in the heart of downtown Greenwood. This bistro-inspired wine bar and restaurant serves a menu made for sharing. And they also have a retail wine shop located on the premises.
Owners Paul and Laura Jacquin have successfully created a dining experience worth the visit. With over 20 wines by the glass and beautiful patio seating, the Villa provides the ideal ambiance for a night out. Their by-the-glass wine selection rotates often, so be sure to ask your server for their recommendations!
Explore a world of wine right here in the Indianapolis region.
From classic French varietals to fresh California vintages, our local restaurants let you sample wines from across the globe. As I said, diverse wine options make all the difference in your dining experience. And these restaurants offer the perfect pairings for your preference—whether you’re an experienced sommelier or a wine novice.
However, these restaurants are only a couple of the spots around Indy for a good glass of wine. If you find another great restaurant that’s not on this list, I’d love to hear about it! As Indy continues to grow, the options here are becoming too hard to keep track of. But that’s a great problem to have for wine lovers like us!