Posted: Apr 3, 2006 9:29am ET
Corkage fees can be annoying sometimes. I understand why restaurants charge but sometimes they can be excessive, even dishonest. I had dinner last night at a Chinese restaurant in Geneva called Tse Yan in the Hilton Hotel and I telephoned them before to see if I could bring a bottle of Bordeaux to share with a friend. I am in the city – where nearly everybody speaks French with a foreign accent – for the watch show this week.
“Qui monsieur, but we will have to charge you a corkage fee,” he answered in a mixture of Chinese and French. “What is the wine?”
I automatically said 2003 Latour. I know. This is infanticide. I have no business drinking great Bordeaux so young. But I wanted to share it with this special friend. Please no hate mail.
“What chateau was that?” the waiter asked.
“It’s not important,” I said, knowing I made a huge mistake now. (It was like the time last summer when I arrived at a fishmongers on the Tuscan coast in a friend’s Ferrari and the prices for fish immediately doubled!)
“Latour will be 60 francs,” he said. (That’s about $46 with the current exchange rate.)
“Okay,” I answered – what choice did I have after I promised this dynamite young Bordeaux to my friend for dinner?
To make a long story short, I brought the bottle. It was properly decanted. We received better glasses than normal. And it was a real treat to drink with my friend. It went very well with the Peking duck and crepes.
The bill came, and I noticed that they had charged me the $46 but it was charged as a bottle of Rully. I paid but felt a little pissed off about the whole thing. It was like adding salt to my wounds.
Have you had similar experiences?
PS: The Latour was gorgeous, even being so young. It had a fabulous nose of crushed strawberries and raspberries with just the right hint of new wood and tobacco. It was full, silky and refined. You could already see its greatness, which is why I scored it a few months ago in a blind tasting in Bordeaux 98 points.