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Reds Hot

Top restaurants are serving wine too warm.

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Sipping what felt like an 80-degree Cabernet at Soho Steak last summer, I had an epiphany when a French couple nearby ordered a sweat-dripping bottle of Brouilly. I asked the waiter why that red wine wasn’t listed as “chilled.” “The French know better,” he said, shrugging. So should New York’s wine professionals: Any sommelier worth his spittoon knows that reds should be at “cellar temperature”—between 60 and 65 degrees. But with most restaurants around 72 degrees in summer, finding a glass of red at a refreshing 69 degrees or lower is difficult (and, at $15 a glass, frustrating). Armed with a Taylor Digital Instant-Read Pocket Thermometer, I tested two glasses of red wine at thirteen top restaurants. More than half pour glasses into the seventies. When I revealed the experiment, most sommeliers spoke of the difficulty of keeping wine cool when it needs to be handy (and of the cost of temp-controlled fridges). Michael Greenlee of Gotham Bar and Grill made no apologies: “It’s just the way it is. By-the-glass sales account for less than 20 percent of our sales. My goal is to see a bottle on every table.”


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