Dallas restaurant Al Biernat’s has been known for being “More Than a Great Steakhouse” for the past 25 years. One of the pillars that has led to this saying is their award-winning wine selection. The often-named best steakhouse has become well-established for having an exceptional wine list and pairings, thanks to its veteran sommeliers.
The men behind the selections are Brian Hardin and Miguel Arias. Hardin serves as Wine Director Sommelier at Al Biernat’s North, and Arias serves as Wine Director Sommelier at the Al Biernat’s Oak Lawn location.
Al Biernat’s wine program won the Best of Award of Excellence in 2023 and the Award of Excellence in 2022 from Wine Spectator Magazine. The Best of Award of Excellence recipients display excellent breadth across multiple winegrowing regions and/or significant vertical depth of top producers, along with superior presentation.
Hardin and Arias come from different experiences and backgrounds but share a common love for wine. With over 50 years of hospitality experience between the two men, they have helped to establish and grow Al Biernat’s wine list. Each location offers a broad range of vineyards, varietals, and vintages, all of which are personally selected by Arias and Hardin.
Wines are chosen that fit the restaurant’s profile and clientele. “Big and bold Napa Cabernet Sauvignons rule the day,” Hardin says. “I craft a list that reflects what is popular right now. I am conscious of wines that have a sense of place.” Al Biernat’s has depth to their list with wines that fit into all price ranges and wines from earlier decades that can be hard to find at other establishments.
“You need to know your clientele. Once you understand the market you are facing, you can find those special wines that fulfill the needs of your guests,” Arias said.
Wines are also evaluated on taste and how well they go with the menu. Winery name recognition is sometimes brought into consideration. Al Biernat’s likes to have great diversity in their selection and includes a wide range of regions, varietals, and producers incorporating Italian and French wines.
Al Biernat’s North hosts bi-monthly wine dinners with wine pairings highlighting a winery partner. The wine dinners take place every other month throughout the year. The wine dinners include a four-course meal along with a reception with passed hors devours. Executive Chef Luis Rodriguez works alongside Hardin in crafting a menu that matches the selection of high-quality wines. The North wine dinners are informative and fun, with door prizes provided by the featured winery.
The next Al Biernat’s North wine dinner will be partnering with Stressed Vines on Thursday, September 21st. The evening will begin with a reception at 6:30 p.m. Chef Luis has created a four-course meal that will follow at 7 p.m.
The menu will include watermelon gazpacho with cucumber, onions, tomatoes, red pepper, and mint, grilled miso salmon over salumi wrapped-goat cheese stuffed-grilled asparagus, a grilled prime New York strip with cremini mushroom risotto garnished with shaved black truffles, and red wine peppercorn sauce, and a Swiss vanilla roll stuffed with strawberry-cream cheese mousse, vanilla ice cream for dessert. Each course will be paired with a Stressed Vines wine including, the 2021 Stressed Vines Block 4 “Annapolis Vineyard’ Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, the 2021 Stressed Vines ‘Triple 7 Vineyard’ Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, the 2020 Stressed Vines Cabernet Sauvignon, Moon Mountain, and a Sparkling Stone Fruit Sangria.
Dinner will be $195 per person, not including tax and gratuity. Space is limited and fills up quickly. To make a reservation, please call Al Biernat’s North at 972.239.3400 or visit their website www.albiernats.com.
Hardin is originally from Meridian, Texas, began in the restaurant industry in 1989, and helped to open the Al Biernat’s Oaklawn location in 1998. Shortly after, Hardin left to take his first sommelier job but returned to Al Biernat’s in 2017 as Wine Director Sommelier. Is proud of the collection of wine cellars that he has been in charge of and helped to create. He enjoys golf, watchmaking, and volunteering at a local thrift store.
Born in Guadalajara Jalisco, Mexico, Arias has lived in Dallas for 28 years, spending 27 years in the hospitality and wine industry. Starting as a server, Arias has worked at Al Biernat’s since early 2016. He later received his sommelier certification in 2016. Arias enjoys being outdoors, hiking, and camping. He loves to dine out and spend time with his friends and family.
At the foundation of Al Biernat’s is building relationships with the guests. Wine selections are special to each person who comes into the restaurant, and the wine stewards take pride in paying attention to the details of each guest. “The attention to detail and the fact that it’s no longer a customer you’re speaking to, it feels like family,” Arias said. “You get to know them on a personal level, so you’re able to fulfill that special occasion with a unique bottle. Something that will bring you to memory lane.”