Tonight the James Beard Awards will be held at the Lyric Opera in Chicago and FIG is in the running as a finalist for Outstanding Wine Program for the fourth year in a row.

Mike Lata and Adam Nemirow’s restaurant faces off against Benu of San Francisco, Canlis in Seattle, Emeril’s New Orleans, and Miller Union in Atlanta. It’s the only Charleston restaurant up for any awards this year. But will it take home the medal?

Eater thinks so. The national website endorsed FIG’s wine program as their pick for this year’s awards.

Other local wine experts think FIG’s chances are good as well. “FIG’s wine program has always been at the forefront of progressive wine lists, not only in Charleston, but also in the entire country,” says sommelier and Communion Wine owner Patrick Emerson. “Having been nominated so many times, I think they have a good chance of winning this year. We all have our fingers and toes crossed for them! By winning, it will make a real statement by showing that not only do we have so many talented chefs and restaurants here, but also that our wine and beverage programs are also world class. Wine is an important part of a restaurant’s overall success. We live in exciting times and I’m thrilled for their whole team.”

Harry Root, owner of Grassroots Wine and a good friend of Lata’s, says, “Without a New York nomination on the short list, I think their chances are pretty good. About 10 years ago, Adam Nemirow began a concerted effort to create a list that provides plenty of variety and relevance while making sure that each wine is for the most part a great paring with Mike and Jason’s food. He did this by focusing much like a chef on balance of alcohol, fruit, and acidity. Diners may not find their favorite Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon on the list, but the chances are whatever wine they order is going to be better match with FIG’s food.”

Root says that FIG’s approach to wine has been in keeping with an overall philosophy change within the industry. “During the last 10 years, a movement towards balance in wine has fundamentally changed the wine world,” he says. Root adds that the movement began with books like Jon Bonne’s New California and events like Raj Parr’s and Jasmine Hirsch’s In Pursuit of Balance and the California cold climate-focused West of West.

“By changing the philosophy of the wine program from giving guests what they want to providing guests with the best possible experience, FIG has proved that the balance movement is not just restricted to New York and California,” Root says. “Further, the energy and brightness of the wine program at FIG gives most guests a bounce in their step on the way out the door.”

Here’s hoping Lata, Nemirow, Stanhope, FIG GM/wine director Morgan Calcote and FIG Director of Administration and Events Jessica Slaughter have a medal in hand and a bounce in their step out the doors of the awards tonight.

The James Beard Awards begin tonight at 6 p.m. Live stream them at

Keep the City Paper free

We don't have a paywall. Each week's printed issue is free. We're local, independent and free. Let's keep it this way.

Please consider a donation of $100 to keep the City Paper free. Donate: