Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pet Peeves Revisited: Red Hot Wine

As anybody who’s dined with me knows, nothing will sour me on a restaurant more than when the waiter brings out a toasty-warm bottle of red wine (or an ice-cold white, for that matter). Wine served at the wrong temperature is criminal and plenty of Atlanta’s restaurants are guilty as charged.

My two cents: Restaurants serve wine at the wrong temperature (and with the wrong stemware) because they can get away with it. Setting aside space and buying electricity to properly cellar wine (55 degrees, please) isn’t cheap. So why bother with it when most customers raise nary a fuss?

I, however, am one to raise a fuss (at least a polite fuss). To me, warm wine tastes like grape juice mixed with rubbing alcohol. I don’t care if its an ‘89 Lafite or the $20 house red, warm wine = bad wine. So what can we do? Send it back, of course!

Easier said than done, right? Once that bottle’s open, you might catch a bit of static when you tell the sommelier that your wine is too warm. So for all of us unabashed wine geeks out there, how about this little gizmo? A company called VinTemp has come out with a keychain-sized device that uses infrared light to tell you the temperature of the wine in the bottle before the waiter pops it open.

Admittedly, its not for everyone – you’re not likely to impress your dinner companions when you pull out something that looks like a tire gauge. Still, it’s an effective way to see if that bottle of Tempranillo is going to sizzle in your mouth before the cork is even pulled. And if that bottle’s too warm? Don’t be shy: Send it back!



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