Friday, October 24, 2008

When To Say When!!!

Early on in my career as Sommelier, I had an interesting experience including an out of sorts couple from the Upper East Side of Manhattan. For obvious reasons to follow, I shall refrain from using their names. But for the sake of this blog, lets refer to them as Dick & Jane. 

Anyway, as anyone who has ever worked in a restaurant understands, the last seating can sometimes be the worst as just before you are about to close the book for the night, in comes a late walk-in. Always a great conversation peace for the Chef on duty. As their dining is about to begin, I had suggested that perhaps Champagne may be a festive opener. Jane agreed, and proceeded to without question to order the Krug, "Clos du Mesnil", 1981. You can imagine the excitement for a Sommelier with any amount of experience. 

Krug, "Clos du Mesnil", 1981 - $979 (a bargain by todays standards)

The question to follow was in regards to the 1964 Petrus vs. 1982 Petrus. I had graciously explained that I had not tasted either merlot but to express how rare and sought after they had been for many years. Thus the price:

Chateau Petrus, 1964 - $2,649
Chateau Petrus, 1982 - $4,891  

Jane ordered both for them to enjoy side by side...

Now, at midpoint of the meal, I had observed a bit of a tiff unfold. As any good service professional would do, I paid attention. As it turns out, Dick was trying to make up for being unfaithful to Jane, all the while Jane was taking Dick to the proverbial bank. Dick was not well versed in wine or (more importantly) their values! The look on Dicks face upon receiving a $10,000.00 dinner bill for two was to say the least, priceless. I, from that day to this day, have never again seen somebody turn that shade of green.

Back in the year 2000, it was illegal to take your wine out of the restaurant if indeed you did not finish it during your meal. That since has changed in New York thanks to another unfaithful, Governor Spitzer. It was my pleasure to have cleaned up one half of each bottle ordered and left behind for "Sommelier Education".

I'm really not sure how things worked out for Dick and Jane but I cant imagine things lasted too long between them. I am however quite sure of one thing, that it was not in the best interest of Merrill Lynch to be picking up the tab!

PS: out of feeling obligated, Dick left $2,000 for Gratuity. Good Times...

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