How not to share wine knowledge with strangers

I’m in a restaurant last night waiting for a friend. I strike up a conversation at the bar with a younger couple celebrating their tenth anniversary. They’re cabernet fans. They’re seated. Later he comes up to me and says choose a cabernet for us. I say there aren’t any but if you try a Barolo or Barbaresco you’ll at least know you’ve had Italy’ s signature great wine. Altare Arborina would have been perfect for his palate but it was an overpriced $225 or more. So I suggest a $125-140 Barolo. My friend shows up, and we sit down and eat. Toward the end of our meal, the couple gets up to leave and they stop by and place on my table the Barolo, half full. They look at me with what looks like compassion and leave. I eventually finish my glass of 2002 Patrice Rion Suchots I brought and pour the Barolo. Substantially corked.

Because of me, they spent $120-140 for a bottle of garbage on their tenth anniversary, and not knowing what TCA is, they think I’m the world’s worst recommender.

I called the restaurant today and the maitre d’ remembers their table and promises to research and charge back the wine on their bill. (I had him taste the wine last night, he agreed it was corked, he then opened two more out of the same case to see, and one of those was also corked).

One of many morals of the story: if you recommend a wine to someone, get a taste of it so you haven’t ruined their dinner if it’s corked.

Too bad the restaurant can’t somehow contact the people and let them know why the wine was being charged back.

Yes I don’t want them thinking Barolo is awful and I almost asked if they left a phone number when they reserved the table but then I checked my motives for doing so, and decided my own ego would have been a big reason. Let them hate me but at least get their money back, which they also might be unaware of.

Oh that’s horrible! I’m sorry and feel for you. What’s really too bad is that the staff didn’t taste, or at least sniff, the wine when they opened it! It was their responsibility to identify the cork, not yours!

If you recommended a corked Cabernet you would have been a great private sommelier.

KNOW your customer.

No good deed goes unpunished.

I just called and the restaurant says they will call the couple if they can find a phone number. It turns out the maitre d who brought them the bottle can no longer drink alcohol so I don’t think anyone sniffed it.

Well done for phoning the restaurant, and hopefully they do get that refund to the couple.
No Cabernet? I can’t believe they wouldn’t have any Tuscan wines on the list [stirthepothal.gif]

OK heres the real truth: I have guilt because the maitre d recommended a really obscure wine and so in a de facto way I overruled him.

That was rather aggressive of the guy, leaving the bottle on your table.

But now that I think about it they served spoiled wine and once they conclysively knew that, while I was watching how theyd handle it, without me saying a word they should have deducted it and called them to explain why the wine tasted bad. Yet I feel like I’m imposing on the restaurant for asking.

No I forgot to say these were really nice people. I think he figured I’d like it.

Sometimes people just need a gentle reminder to do the right thing.

If it wasn’t for the swarthy mustachioed Portugese cork mafia, these tragedies wouldn’t happen in civilized society.

Arv you’re right. I need to go back up the supply chain.

You need to fly to Portugal tomorrow.

George, I think you’re probably taking this harder than they are, but good on you for doing everything you can to make good.

It does seem Italian wines have a higher degree of cork taint, though I don’t know why.

It reminds me when I was the wine director at Havana in Bar Harbor. A couple called ahead, requested that we set aside the 1999 Sassicaia for them. It was their 5th anniversary and they had gone to Italy for their honeymoon. While there they had the 1999 Sass on release while they were in Tuscany. Later after dinner they left me the last 1/3 of the bottle and said I should make sure to try it…it was “just as we remembered it.”

Sadly…that bottle was horribly corked.

Must have something to do with the cork soakers over there. [wink.gif]


confused - why were they served a corked bottle?