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Warm Reds

Does anyone else think that restaurant reds are consistently served too warm? I live in Miami, which might be the problem, but I always find that reds are served way too warm - even in "good"/expensive restaurants. What's worse is that they act like I'm nuts if I ask them to chill it. What's the deal?

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  1. This is a huge issue IMO in most restaurants. Here in Richmond, VA, Flemings is the only place I know of that serves reds at the proper temperature. Everyplace else (regardless of price point) serves them to warm and in some instances borderline hot. I generally do not order a red (except at Flemings) in a restaurant in the summer.

      1. One of the major issues is that many restos, regardless of the caliber keep the wines on the service or back bar, usually near the white wines. This generally means above a refridgerator compressor pumping out hot air.
        The bane of most restos is the lack of space and this is generally a direct reflection of this problem.

        1. Yes! A thousands times Yes! The opposite is also true for the whites - too cold! Too many either ascribe to the adage of "room temp" for reds, or just do not have a proper storage area, from which to bring the wines. In the case of whites, cupping the glass in one's hands (yes, I know - fingerprints, etc.) can warm the wine. I find that I require an ice-bucket for my reds, far more often, than for my whites.

          The biggest problem with reds served too warm is that the alcohol is usually pronounced, and wine is perceived as out of balance. With too much cold in whites, all of the nuances are lost.

          I always start my reds at my cellar temp, 55°F. By the time that I have served them, the temp is usually around 60°F. I chill my whites to ~ 50°F and find that they warm to ~60°F by the time that they are served. Some sweeter whites do benefit from being a touch cooler, and some light reds, do better with a touch more chill.

          It is a mark of a good restaurant, when the whites are slightly cool, and the reds not too very far behind.


          4 Replies
          1. re: Bill Hunt

            I agree with everything you posted....yes, the white are too cold as well.

            1. re: Bill Hunt

              You would think that by now someone would have invented some sort of temperature controlled ice-bucket ... where you could stick the bottle in, turn a dial and maintain it at the correct temperature.

              1. re: rworange

                A friend of mine has one--I think he got it from the sharper image. We use it to keep whites cool but it would be good for reds at the lower settings.

                1. re: kenito799

                  I received one of these recently, as a gift, but have yet to try it out. The marketing blurbs on the packaging indicate that it will work in either temp direction. Time to unpack it and put it to the test! Especially as I'll be seeing the nice person, who "gifted" it, and he'll want to know how it works.

                  Report to follow,

            2. Many restaurants will store a small portion of reds in the dining room or behind the bar just to have them handy. If the bulk of the wine is stored in the cellar or other temp. controlled space, you can just ask to have your wine brought from there. Also, ten minutes in a fridge is usually perfect to bring reds down to temp. I don't like it when reds are served too warm, either, but it's easy enough to fix.

              Whites are kept too cold because most people want them that way. It's really too bad, but what can you do? I am especially saddened when I serve someone a stunning Puligny Montrachet and they ask for a bucket of ice to keep the wine chilled. They'll never know what they're missing! I have worked in restaurants that have several different temperature options close to the dining room, but most places just don't have the space.

              Luckily, whites will warm up and reds can be chilled. Just ask! And maybe you shouldn't have to, but you are very special consumers. Keep asking and you'll change practices eventually. Remember when only the very best restaurants even had much wine to offer?


              1. I often warm white wines with my palms. No big deal.

                When a red's too warm, I drop one ice cube in the glass. Not enough water to affect the flavor significantly.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  It happened to me again last Tuesday night. Red wine served too warm. As usual - I spooned out a few small ice cubes and put them into my glass, in front of the server. He was a bit aghast. I told him the wine was too warm and that he should tell management. I doubt if he did.
                  The same thing happened to me at the Boulevard in San Francisco. The server replied that people tell him that all the time. ??????????

                2. I went to an outdoor wedding this weekend, in NYC. The red wine was served at whatever the scorching temperature reached as it made me sweat. It was like drinking tea after it had cooled off. I felt weird doing it, but I actually stuck an ice cube in it. I know it was not the greatest wine in the world, so I was not as worried about ruining it, but it was still weird.

                  Plenty of homes now have refrigerated storage for red wines. Restaurants need to think about making it their practice.