Walk into The Forge, on Miami Beach, and before you know it, you’ve time warped into a fairytale. Inspired by the “Mad Hatter” from Alice and Wonderland, the restaurant and wine bar’s classic décor and purple glow puts an avant-garde twist on what is otherwise a 1920’s mansion. Once an actual forge, the locale is now home to long wooden tables, throne-like dining chairs, hanging strands of crystals, whimsical chandeliers — the main one straight from the Paris Opera House — a library, light fixtures from the Kennedy-era White House, and Napoleon Bonaparte’s very own bedroom sconces.
But despite its beauty, what really solidifies The Forge’s age-old reputation as a demure, celebrity must-try is its prestigious wine cellar. Helmed by Gino, the restaurant’s infamous sommelier, and a man who has served the role for more than 40 years, The Forge wine cellar is unlike any other in the Magic City.
Fortunately for us, we had a chance to tour the cellar with Gino himself, chat about the most prized vintages, and pick his brain about what makes The Forge’s collection so special. Here’s what we learned:
- The original wine cellar was created in 1968 by Al Malnik, who founded The Forge. Today, an expanded version is run by Al’s son, Shareef, current owner of The Forge Restaurant and Wine Bar.
- The wine cellar houses more than $3M worth of wine.
- All bottles are organized by white, red, country of origin, and type of grape.
- All wines have to be stored between 54° and 66° Fahrenheit – and in a separate room, two of each bottle is stored in a cooler at 40° to 45° Fahrenheit.
- Hidden from the public eye, one of the first rooms of the wine cellar is “The White Room,” which stores the restaurant’s entire collection of sparkling wine, Champagne, Riesling, Chardonnay, White Burgundy and Sauvignon Blanc.
- The wine cellar has a locked room that holds Shareef Malnik’s private collection. These wines are valued at $2M and include more than 175 bottles, five of which are premier grand cru: Chateau Latour, Chateau Margeaux, Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Chateau Lafitte Rothschild and Chateau Haute-Brion.
- The back cellar, located at the end of the dining room, contains The Forge’s special red wines – including bottles from California, Italy, Spain, Bordeaux, Argentina, Chile, Australia and New Zealand.
- Guests are welcome to reserve the private dining room right in the center of the wine cellar, perfect for intimate groups of family and friends.
- The most prestigious and oldest bottle of wine at The Forge is the Chateau Lafitte Rothschild 1822. The grapes for this vintage were harvested just one year after Napoleon Bonaparte’s death, and the bottle is currently valued at $165K.
- The restaurant’s most popular vintages are the California reds, which account for 70% of all wine sales at The Forge.
The Forge Restaurant and Wine Bar is located at 432 West 41st Street. To make a reservation, click here.