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I know what you’re thinking. Tacky, right? It flies in the face of conventional vino wisdom. White wine is served chilled; red not so much. And yet, there are exceptions virtually every where I look.
I first discovered cold red wine at Bistro du Coin where the Georges Duboeuf Brouilly comes chilled. I order it every time alongside my steak frites. Last week, in Paris, I found plenty of red wines served chilly as well.
On Wednesday night, I put the question to Bourbon Steak sommelier David Metz. Cold red wine: très chic or très faux? His reply: “mazel tov.” I could drink it cold if I liked. Not a ringing endorsement, but no scoffing, either.
One Saturday night a few weeks ago, I ran into a woman who understood my plight better than anyone.
I left my famished friend Melissa outside to enjoy her yolky croque-monsieur and I walked up to the counter at Big Bear Cafe. It was my first time there so I scanned the limited wine menu. I wanted cold red wine but wasn’t sure how the woman behind the counter would react. I then wanted bubbles. I didn’t see bubbles, but I thought I’d check just in case.
“Do you have anything sparkling?” I asked, lifting my shoulders quizzically.
“No,” the bartender Lenora replied.
I stood there for another moment, just a tiny bit nervous because I just wasn’t sure what she’d think of my request. But I was in Bloomingdale, a part of the city that leaves judgment for others.
“Well,” I started, “what I really want is cold red wine.”
“Well,” she replied, slightly leaning over the counter, “we keep our wine in the fridge so it lasts longer. It should be pretty cold still.” She then brought two bottles of wine to the counter. I picked the organic one, but she could tell I wasn’t completely satisfied with the temperature.
“Want ice in it?”
“No…” and I looked down to the floor like a puppy.
“Want me me to put the wine in the cocktail shaker with ice to chill it, then strain the ice out?”
“Yes! That would be perfect!”
Lenora’s shaken wine arrived in the glass chilly and frothy, perfect for sipping over stories on a sticky summer night.
Photo by Stefanie Gans