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3 Great Wine Restaurants

Where are you traveling next? To the Rocky Mountains' rugged peaks? A serene lake in Minnesota? Seattle's vibrant city streets? If so, check out these three restaurants that are worth any wine-lover's attention.

Boulder, Colorado: Hiking, rock-climbing, fly-fishing and kayaking in and around Boulder, Colorado's 30,000 acres of open space have a way of making visitors hungry. Fortunately, this vibrant Old West town has an impressive number of highly acclaimed restaurants set to satisfy.

One such place is The Kitchen, a charming neighborhood bistro that serves up comforting classics prepared with seasonal, local and high-quality ingredients. Wine selections from California, France, Italy and Spain anchor wine director Karim Boulet's list -- which has been awarded a Wine Spectator's "Best Award of Excellence."

Before or after dinner, head upstairs to the wine lounge, where enthusiasts can choose from an extensive list of half-bottles to enjoy amidst a lively local crowd. The Kitchen, 1039 Pearl Street, Boulder, CO;; 303-544-5973.

Minneapolis, Minnesota: Traveling to one of Minnesota's 10,000 lakes this summer? Rick Nelson, restaurant critic for the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune, points wine-lovers toward Solera, a restaurant specializing in both modern and traditional tapas as well as paella.

Yet whether you order the Chorizo-Stuffed Dates or the Salt Cod Croquettes, just don't try to order a California Chardonnay -- the list is exclusively Spanish, covering the many diverse regions and grape varieties of that wine-loving country.

The restaurant's extensive sherry selection further distinguishes the wine program. Solera's by-the-glass sherry list happens to be one of the largest in the country, encompassing enough styles and flavor profiles to pair with any course of the meal -- from appetizers to desserts. Solera, 900 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, MN;; 612-338-0062.

Seattle, Washington: Immensely popular Wild Ginger specializes in the cuisines of China and Southeast Asia -- areas with few established wine traditions. That hasn't stopped the restaurant from winning accolades for their 30,000-bottle wine cellar.

One trick is knowing what works well with the complex recipes (some sauces contain as many as 30 fresh spices and herbs -- not to mention chili peppers).

Need a solution? "We have a much bigger focus on aromatic white varietals than most restaurants, such as German and Alsatian wines and fruit-forward, softer-tannin reds, such as Rhône blends and Zinfandels," says Wine Director Olé Thompson. These wines, he says, can stand up to spicy, intense flavors in the lively fare. Wild Ginger, 1401 Third Avenue, Seattle, WA;; 206-623-4450.

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