Is a wine worth £75 in a restaurant?
Imagine you order a wine priced at £75 off a wine list. What do you expect, and are you entitled to send it back if you have tasted it, drunk over half of it, and then wish to send it back on the sole grounds that "it is not worth £75"
We had this experience with a young, upwardly mobile professional, with girl friend in tow. He reserved a table for 8 p.m. and arrived at 8.45 without an apology - always a bad sign this! Ordered dinner and a bottle of Chateau Haut Brion 1978, priced at £75 at that time.
I decanted the wine, and as is the custom and practice, tasted the decanted wine to check it. No problems, it was just what I expected. The decanter, empty bottle and cork were placed on the guests table, and the wine poured for tasting in the normal way. The guest tried it and approved it.
They had the soup course and the starter course, without comment on the wine. Then just as the main course was going to be served, I was summoned to their table, and informed that the wine was not worth £75. A cursory inspection of the decanter showed over half consumed. I got a clean glass, and tasted the wine again. Again there was no problem, it had not faded in the 45 minutes since it had been opened.
I told the guest that he was drinking Chateau Haut Brion 1978 exactly as I would have expected it to taste. His retort was that it was not worth £75. Questioning him about his knowledge about premiere cru Bordeaux wines, I discovered that he had no knowledge of the wines at all.. Never the less, he wanted me to open another bottle, which I refused to do, as it would have been exactly the same
I received a tirade then from the guest about "whatever happened to the customer always being right". My response was that I had already lost £75 on a perfectly good bottle of wine, and there was little point in opening a second bottle and risking a further £75. The most cost effective option was to ask him to leave there and then - he was refusing to pay the £75, I was not going to risk another loss, and he was the sort of guest that no hotel keeper would ever want to return to their restaurant anyway.
If it was done to impress the girl friend, it certainly did not work, as she never got her meal. One of the great sadnesses in running a hotel is that every so often one meets people like this, who want to use us as a doormat