Some time ago I encountered a half-bottle of 1968 Beaulieu Vineyard Burgundy Napa Valley on a great wine list at a fancy restaurant.
I was tempted to buy it, since this wine—a blend of mostly Cabernet, but also I believe some Pinot Noir and perhaps Gamay—in its youth was a delicious cuvée. (The Burgundy Napa Valley sold for about $2 a bottle when it came out in the early 1970s, and it was a regular around my house. The same vintage of BV Private Reserve Cabernet, a genuine classic, came out at about $6!)
The restaurant had the Burgundy priced at $50, which was steep. But I was terribly curious, since the wine had been so wonderful and at the time might have still been pretty good.
As I contemplated the purchase, and discussed the wine with the sommelier—a friendly, knowledge young man—I naturally wondered if he’d tried the wine and knew of its current condition.
He said no, no one had served the wine in some time. But he’d be happy to pour it for me. Then I asked, well, what if the wine is shot?
Well, he replied, that would be my problem, to which I replied, well, shouldn’t you know whether the wines you’re selling are still alive and worth drinking. Well, no, not necessarily, he answered. They had the wine, offered it for sale, and buyer beware.
I passed, fearing the wine would be dead and that I’d be not only disappointed but a bit annoyed that I’d be charged for a wine of inferior quality.
It seems to me that if you buy an old wine, and it turns out to be expired, you should not have to pay for it. Granted, I’m not suggesting that if you buy a 19th century Lafite or Inglenook, and it’s dead, that you shouldn’t have to pay for it. I can understand the inherent risk in buying an ancient wine. But with a wine that was perhaps 20 or 25 years old at the time, as was the case with the BV Burgundy, the buyer shouldn’t be stuck with an expired wine. Moreover, the restaurant should know the condition of its wines, and shouldn’t charge people for bad ones, much less keep them on the list.
Sandy Fitzgerald — Centennial, CO — July 8, 2008 6:20pm ET
Anthony Clapcich — new york — July 8, 2008 9:29pm ET
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Bruce Nichols — Naples, — July 8, 2008 11:14pm ET
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Hoyt Hill Jr — Nashville, TN — July 9, 2008 8:34am ET
John Osgood — New York, NY — July 9, 2008 10:15am ET
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Brent L Pierce — St. Helena, CA — July 9, 2008 2:35pm ET
John Osgood — New York, NY — July 9, 2008 2:56pm ET
Sandy Fitzgerald — Centennial, CO — July 9, 2008 5:32pm ET
Andrew Kiken — calistoga, ca — July 9, 2008 7:16pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — July 9, 2008 9:23pm ET
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Charles J Stanton — Eugene, OR — July 9, 2008 9:29pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — July 9, 2008 9:29pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — July 9, 2008 9:32pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — July 9, 2008 9:34pm ET
Apj Powers — Dallas, TX — July 10, 2008 2:03am ET
Jason Fernandez — Boston, MA — July 10, 2008 8:48am ET
John Poggemeyer — Cleveland, OH — July 10, 2008 10:26am ET
Sam Chen — The Golden State — July 10, 2008 11:07am ET
Apj Powers — Dallas, TX — July 10, 2008 4:12pm ET
Robert Fukushima — California — July 10, 2008 4:50pm ET
Douglas A Smith — Palo — July 10, 2008 8:57pm ET
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