Sunday, January 12, 2014

Wine Bar Review: 13 Celsius

I know, I know, I am very late to this party.  I’ve been hearing amazing things about 13 Celsius for years, and since I don’t live near it, I didn’t get around to visiting until a few weeks ago.  Big mistake.  This place is great, and I plan to go there as often as possible.  Here are my impressions after my first visit.

Atmosphere:  Comfortable, with an elegant-yet-rustic sort of vibe.  Suitable for showing up in whatever you wore to run errands earlier in the day, or dressing up and taking a date.  I like the variety of seating options - sofas, tables, or bar.

Wine List:  Extensive.  2 full pages of wines by the glass, with I don’t know how many more pages of bottle options.  And a wide variety of wine styles.  For instance, I’ve been meaning to try orange wines (wine made from white grapes, but using the method for making a red) for a long time (I’m late to that party too), but hadn’t seen them available anywhere.  13 Celsius had 5.  BY THE GLASS.  Pretty amazing.

Oh, and you know that full 2-page list of wines by the glass?  You can have any of them as a 3-oz pour also.  Double amazing.

I've heard that the name 13 Celsius comes from the temperature of a wine cellar (about 55 degrees Fahrenheit), and wines here are indeed served at the proper temperature.  I'm always amazed how many "nice" restaurants will serve a room-temperature red wine.  A good wine bar should pay attention to service temperature, and I appreciate that 13 Celsius does.

Food:  The menu ranges from the standard wine bar fare of bread and meat and cheese (albeit with a wider variety of options than most places), to Panini, to larger hot meals.  I had bread and cheese and a deliciously hot-out-of-the-oven pretzel.

Service:  One of the most important features of any good wine bar is a knowledgeable staff, which 13 Celsius definitely has.  Even if you know a good bit about wine, you'll still appreciate some guidance in selecting from their extensive list.

Bottom Line:  This place has earned a spot on my shortlist of favorite places to drink wine in Houston.  I just wish it hadn't taken me so long to get there!

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