There’s a Lot of Blame to Go Around

Wine bottles on a wooden shelf.It happened at the Bobby Flay Steakhouse at the Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, N.J.

As is detailed in this story, there was a colossal misunderstanding when a diner ordered a bottle of wine. In a nutshell, here’s what happened:

  • A group was having a business dinner, and three in the group decided to share a bottle of wine.
  • The host of the dinner was one of the three, and asked the server to recommend a nice bottle, citing his lack of experience with wine.
  • The server pointed to a bottle on the restaurant’s wine list. Because the host wasn’t wearing his glasses, he asked what the price was.
  • The server reportedly replied, “Thirty-seven fifty.”
  • The host approved, and the bottle — the 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon from Screaming Eagle — was brought to the table, approved by the host, uncorked and poured.
  • When the bill arrived after the dinner, the host was shocked to see the total: $4,700.61 — including $3,750 for the wine.

Thirty-seven fifty, indeed.

The host claimed he thought the price of the wine was thirty-seven dollars and fifty cents — not a hundred times more. The restaurant bended but would not be broken, ultimately discounting the bottle to $2,200.

So what went wrong here? Who should be held accountable for this big-time mistake?

Personally, I think there’s plenty of blame to go around.

Let’s begin with the server. When the host told her he didn’t know much about wine, should she have recommended a bottle that cost $3,750?

I don’t think so.

At the very least, she should have clearly confirmed the price with the host. She should not have said, “Thirty-seven fifty.” She should have said, “Thirty-seven hundred fifty.”

Likewise, the host should have been more careful about knowing what he was ordering. The fact that he didn’t have his glasses on, and thus was unable to read the price on the wine list, is no excuse.

We all need to be responsible for our actions, and in this case, neither the server nor the host did well in that regard.

The lesson for us wine drinkers: When ordering wine at a restaurant, verify the price with the server or sommelier before the bottle is opened.


Once the cork is out, you can’t put the genie back in the bottle.

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Posted in Editor's Journal
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