The One Huge Problem with Restaurant Wines You Probably Never Noticed
And how one somm is trying to fix it.
You’ll notice something a little bit different about the wine lists at Maxwell Park, DC’s newest wine bar opening in the white-hot Shaw neighborhood.
Something that you never knew you needed to know is printed by each wine sold by the glass: the temperatures.
“I have four different digitally controlled temperatures zones at 45, 50, 55 and 60 degrees,” says Brent Kroll, the pioneering sommelier behind this 33-seat bar. “I hope it become an industry standard.”
Kroll has opened about 20 restaurants, and he always had one gripe: All the wines were stored at the same temperature and humidity.
“Even the top restaurants in the world, the care for by the glass wasn’t really there,” says Kroll. “Every time I did a build-out, I always advised ownership to have different temperatures.”
So Kroll is making varied temperatures and humidity levels a priority at Maxwell Park, as well as a decision to make the unusual the spotlight.
“Of all the wine bars in DC, I’m the only non-natural wine bar,” he says. “I’m trying to stay away from the trends. I want to be a wine bar where we feature things that get overlooked.”
Here, that means focusing on whatever he’s geeking out about, like indigenous Greek varietals or pinot grigio, and staffing his team with certified sommeliers, like Daniel Runnerstrom of Iron Gate and Niki Lang of Fiola Mare, to walk customers through what they’re tasting. The countertop of the wine bar is made of slate, similar to cheese boards, so notes can be jotted while tasting through the wines.
“It’s been at least four years in the making,” says Kroll. “I lucked out with the space after 50 failed spaces. Then with a stroke of luck, it all came together.”
Get a taste of it yourself when the bar opens on Monday.