I am reminded of a time many years ago in my first restaurant in the UK when a young ‘air force’ client ordered a bottle of No 18; a Chateau Petrus 1970. At the time it was on our list for £25: about the young man’s weekly wage. Peter my restaurant Manager came up to me really excited, “we’ve just sold our first bottle of Petrus,” he exclaimed. I went out to the client and explained that as he had ordered such a lovely bottle of wine I wanted to decant it and let it breathe which would delay his meal for a while. Peter presented the bottle and came ‘back of house’ to decant it. When the time came for Peter to pour it, the young man said, “I think there’s been some mistake, I ordered a white wine.” You could have heard a pin drop; Peter went white; not quite as white as the young man when he realised that he had ordered a £25 bottle of wine instead of the No 17 that he thought he had ordered, Entre deux Mers at £1.95 a bottle (yes, it was a long time ago). I explained I couldn’t possibly change it as I would have to drink it myself and although the prospect was quite appealing, I just couldn’t justify the expense. They were having an engagement dinner and were determined to enjoy their evening. The young lady said we had spoilt her for life and that she would never be able to drink another red wine — unless it was a Chateau Petrus!
A week later they came in with her parents. I was so pleased to see them and we opened a bottle of Bollinger 73 for them. They gracefully acknowledged the gesture and I added, “Would you like me to decant the Petrus now sir?” They came back several times but never ordered another bottle of the nectar.
I suppose Karma came around when Peter took a bottle of tonic from a shelf pushing another one off, which fell gracefully onto the open case of Petrus, smashing a bottle!! The case cost me £460 (you can see that I was selling it for less than I paid — very philanthropic!) with a value even now of around £6500 a bottle — and when I left the case, along with other wines for safe keeping, with a wine merchant ‘friend’ of mine to come to Spain, he sold his business with my wines included at stock at valuation which in 1987 was worth in excess of £100.000 in today’s money: but now?????
I should have drunk the young man’s bottle for no other reason that I never got to drink a bottle of 1970 Chateau Petrus.