Not to knock a piña colada, but what excites me more than a fruity cocktail when I'm on a Caribbean island is a glass of wine, no matter if it's a crisp sauvignon blanc or a sultry shiraz. While on Providenciales, which is Turks & Caicos' most populated island with 32,000 people (it also lacks a cruise-ship stop, promising even more intimacy), I sampled the local wine scene with gusto, my heart set on finding the best spots. Here are my six favorites.
Open only since last summer, Beach House is more than just a 21-suite hotel. Its restaurant—open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner—is ultra gourmet with options unlike anywhere else on the island. Twenty wines are poured by the glass and if you want to experience a fun pairing, enlist chef Eric Vernice for "Eric's Perspective Menu" in which each course is paired with a wine. Or, if you already know what you're craving, be it lobster or mushrooms, your meal can be based around that key ingredient and you choose between five and 10 courses, paired with wines. "The Path" menu is yet another option for dining where an olfactory journey matches wine's flavor profiles with culinary aromas.
OPUS Wine Bar Grill at Ocean Club Resorts
With 150 wines on its list—14 offered by the glass—the 4,000-square-foot OPUS Wine Bar Grill at Ocean Club Resorts is a must-stop destination for wine lovers. Co-owner Tony Arata hails from Seattle and worked in New York City restaurants before falling in love with Turks & Caicos after vacationing there. The garden courtyard hosts acoustic guitarists, jazz musicians, and vocalists that contribute to the already-romantic ambiance. With lobster spring rolls and Ahi rare tuna with a plum soy sauce, sliced ginger, and jasmine rice, I sipped a glass of Italian pinot grigio before moving on to dessert (rum cake with caramel sauce, mint leaves, and vanilla ice cream). During high season the wine list at OPUS expands beyond its regular offerings, which include cult classics from Joseph Phelps, Opus One, Caymus Vineyards, Stags' Leap, Migration, Duckhorn, and Adelsheim, as well as a new hit with wine lovers: Oren Swift Cellars "The Prisoner." But no matter what time of year, this os considered the island's best wine list.
Magnolia Restaurant & Wine Bar
Although this fine-dining restaurant at Miramar Resort doesn't serve dinner until 6 pm, glasses of wine—of which there are 14 choices—are $6 each between 4 pm and 6 pm, paired with a view of Turtle Cove Marina from its two-level patio cut into the hillside surrounded by lush, tropical foliage. I joyfully sipped a glass of Undarra sauvignon blanc (Chile), enjoying its crisp, snappy finish along with creamy lemon notes. Wines poured by the glass include Raymond Cabernet sauvignon (California) and Gloria Ferrer Winery sparkling wine. Dinner options are eclectic with local roots, like fresh Turks & Caicos lobster tails with jasmine rice and clarified butter, and grilled shrimp in Caribbean curry sauce with a side of plantain chips.
Stelle at Gansevoort Turks + Caicos
Open since the spring of 2009, Gansevoort Turks + Caicos is a Caribbean offshoot of Gansevoort hotels in NYC (Meatpacking District and Flatiron). Stelle's glam interior is a refreshing departure from the island's beach-chic eateries. Tall ceilings and chandeliers, along with brown coral contribute to a glam space that's also got shimmery turquoise dinner plates and antique gas lanterns on each table. From the lengthy wine list, which includes 2000 Dom Perignon alongside many bottles under-$100, I opted for a glass of Kaiken cabernet sauvignon (Argentina) and paired it with linguine tossed with spiny lobster and tomato white-wine sauce infused with lobster and roasted garlic.
The F Spot Bistro & Lounge
Inconspicuously tucked into Turtle Cove Marina, The F Spot Bistro & Lounge offers a happy-hour drinks menu from 5 pm to 7 pm daily featuring $6 glasses of wine. Also during this time, with the purchase of four tapas, you get one free. I paired a Chilean chardonnay with cracked conch. Despite the casual ambiance, The F Spot Bistro & Lounge's wine list is spectacular, including selections like 2008 Louis Latour chablis (Burgundy, France).
Da Conch Shack
It would practically be a crime to leave Turks & Caicos without first trying conch and what better place to do so than this open-air beachfront shack? I was delighted to learn that bottles of Veuve Clicquot and 2002 Pierre Peters Champagne are on the menu at Da Conch Shack alongside conch fritters, conch ceviche, cracked conch, curried conch, and coconut conch stew. Grab a table and get ready for an authentic Provo meal, even if you are traveling to or from the airport (actually, this is a perfect pit stop).
Kristine Hansen is a freelance writer based in Milwaukee where she reports on food, wine, and travel topics around the globe for Fodors.com, along with new-hotel openings. She also writes for Wine Enthusiast, TIME, Whole Living and American Way. In 2006 she co-authored The Complete Idiot's Guide to Coffee and Tea (Alpha Books/Penguin). You can follow her on Twitter @kristineahansen or through her web site.
Photo credits: Beach House courtesy of Beach House; OPUS Wine Bar Grill at Ocean Club Resorts courtesy of Ocean Club Resorts; Stelle courtesy of Gansevoort Turks and Caicos; Da Conch Shack by Greg Verdino Attribution License