My family and I are on vacation in Southern California with some friends, staying at the same resort we’ve stayed at for the past seven years and, for only the third time in our 18-year career, we didn’t have a gig on New Year’s Eve! Although New Year’s is a great time to work (being onstage seems to help avoid the inevitable anticlimax of midnight’s strike), it was a pleasure to be with friends and family for a relaxing evening of food and wine.
Or, so we had hoped. We made a reservation at the upscale Italian restaurant here on the property and brought some of our own wines to enjoy. This is a novelty for us in itself, as the right to BYO was only recently passed into law in Ontario, where we live.
When we got to the restaurant, it was slammed. Our table, we were told, wouldn’t be ready for 15 minutes or so; would we mind having a drink at the bar? We had brought a bottle of Krug Rosé to have with our first courses, but if we had to wait, I asked if it was okay for us to drink it in the bar. "No problem," the hostess told us; she took us to a tucked-away corner of the room and placed the bottle in the middle of the table in front of us. A different hostess came over and told us she’d get us some glasses.
We watched the party in the bar begin to warm up, and our hostess returned with four flutes. She placed them in front of us and asked if she could get a server to come and open the bottle for us. I asked if I was allowed to open it myself, to which she replied, "I’ll get a server." And so we waited some more, watched the ocean out the window, snacked on some olives, and waited still more until the first hostess came back to tell us our table was ready. We headed back to the restaurant with our warm, still-unopened Champagne.
Meanwhile, the restaurant crowd had come to a boil: There were near fistfights at the maitre d' station, where customers were complaining about having to wait over an hour for a table! We considered ourselves lucky and took our seats. Our waiter chilled the Champagne for us and told us about the evening’s menu. I told him I had brought a special wine that I would like decanted and presented him with a bottle of 1995 Cos-d’Estournel. He whisked the bottle away, and came back a few minutes later to pour the Champagne. As he poured my glass, he leaned over and said, “That wine decanted very nicely; very little sediment.” Then he walked off to get our appetizers.
Later, the waiter showed up with a decanter holding what I can only assume was my wine (although we at the table joked that he’d replaced it with Yellow Tail) and poured it around. The wine was delicious, though surprisingly mature. Most likely, it was my bottle of Cos. I wish I could be sure! But I guess wine crimes like this are more likely to occur in a restaurant crowded with New Year’s Eve revelers.
I was surprised that the waiter opened and decanted the wine away from view and didn’t return the bottle, especially when the wine service at the property’s steak house a couple of nights later was so excellent – the polar opposite of New Year’s Eve. But I was also surprised that he didn’t offer me a taste of the wine before he poured it around. Of course, I wouldn’t have the ability to send it back, but I certainly wouldn’t want everyone at the table to take a swig if, by chance, the wine was off.
Being a newbie at BYO, and not envying the waiter’s gig that night, I didn’t speak up. But what would you do? Me, I think next year, I’ll try to make sure I have a concert booked on New Year’s!
John Poggemeyer — Cleveland, OH — January 8, 2007 2:03pm ET
Warren Porter — Toronto, Ontario — January 8, 2007 4:45pm ET
Tom Breneman — eau claire, WI — January 8, 2007 5:18pm ET
Heidi King — Fredericton, NB — January 8, 2007 6:00pm ET
Bret Dublinske — Iowa — January 8, 2007 9:02pm ET
Walter J Flasza — Thunder Bay, Ontario — January 8, 2007 9:44pm ET
Mike Casey — Coronado, CA — January 9, 2007 12:07am ET
Paul Charron — Scottsdale — January 9, 2007 8:40am ET
Karl Mark — Geneva, IL. — January 9, 2007 9:42am ET
Troy Peterson — Burbank, CA — January 9, 2007 11:40am ET
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