The restaurant was stunningly elegant - they must have spent millions. Everything in its place and everyone perfectly trained - working like a fine watch as they glided through the dinning room. As much attention was paid to the wine list as the food and the list was full of tempting bottles, beautifully displayed on arching racks behind the bar. The tables gleamed with exactly the right Riedel stemware for the wine selected.
It was a beautiful warm West Coast day, 85 degrees with no humidity, so the broad glass doors that formed the perimeter of the dining room were thrown open to let the evening’s cool breezes slip gently through the room. It was that sublime type of warm that oozes comfort. After stretching the limits of my wife’s patience, I finally made a choice from the comprehensive wine list. With distinguished fanfare the bottle arrived at the table, the cork was removed and sniffed. A small splash was poured into my gigantic Riedel and I took a sniff and a sip. Although it was not corked, it was not right. There is just something not enjoyable about a 14% alcohol wine served at the temperature of bath water.
Tepid red wine is not pleasurable to drink.
Why is it that restaurants that spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on custom display wine racks and hyper-expensive glassware can’t bother to serve their wines at the proper temperature? There are the bottles on dramatic wall racks or lined behind the bar, only to spend the night with the A/C turned off or warming up to the open-air temperature of a warm summer day. Red wines should be served at 68 degrees not 78 degrees.
America is the country where we serve our white wines too cold and our red wines too warm. That old saw about serving red wines at room temperature was conceived by some old British Lord sitting in a damp old castle, not some gleaming restaurant in LA or Manhattan.
Restaurants have made great strides in wine service. Wine lists have improved dramatically and great glassware is the norm, not the exception, in almost any good restaurant. Now they need to take those few last steps. I am tired of having to ask for an ice bucket for my red wine, which I have to do in almost every restaurant I visit from June to September. With the price most restaurants painfully extract from the consumer, the very least they could do is serve the wine at an enjoyable temperature.