The English language can be a tricky thing. And a bottle of wine can cost a hell of a lot more than you might think.
Joe Lentini learned that the hard way.
During a business dinner at Bobby Flay’s Steak at the Borgata Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City recently, Lentini and two of his dinner companions decided to share a bottle of wine. Lentini let the waitress know that he didn’t know too much about wine and asked her for a recommendation. She pointed to the menu and recommended a 2011 bottle of Screaming Eagle Oakville. Since he didn’t have his glasses handy and couldn’t read the menu, Joe asked her how much the bottle would set him back.
He had no idea how much of a setback this would be.
The waitress replied “Thirty seven fifty”. That’s right – 3750
In Joe’s and his co-workers’ world, “thirty seven fifty” means $37.50. Okay, so it was the Borgata Hotel & Casino in luxurious downtown Atlantic City, wheeler/dealer capital of Joisey. (I encourage you to insert as much sarcasm as possible there.) But your average…uh…Joe, would never dream that what the waitress meant was actually “Three thousand, seven hundred and fifty” dollars, or clams, or whatever we’re currently calling them in Jersey.
I would’ve been screaming like an eagle too.
Naturally, Joe and his wine drinking cohorts were dumbfounded. They called over the waitress, who stood by her muddled words, they called over the Manager, who stood by the waitresses’ muddled words. And in the end, in order to be permitted to leave the premises, Joe and his dining companions were able to cut a deal with the Manager, settling on a cool $2,500 instead.
Between you and me? I would’ve popped my cork.
The argument from the point of view of the restaurant was that this is a fine dining establishment at a well known, high end, casino where they think nothing of charging and selling bottles of wine ranging well into the thousands. It just so happens, that the wine Joe ordered was the second most expensive bottle on the menu.
So why did the waitress recommend that particular bottle to a relatively un-annointed wine drinker? A cynical and probably right on the money guess would be for the lucrative 18% tip she stood to receive from the bottle in addition to what she would make from the dinner check on a party of ten.
Should Joe have had his glasses at the ready? Sure. But should the waitress have pointed out the second most expensive bottle of wine to a vino newbie? Absolutely not. Should the Manager have charged Joe and his buddies $37.50 and eaten the rest? You bet. Could Bobby Flay afford to take the hit on this one? For freakin’ sure. Will he take an even bigger hit from the media fallout from the story? I sure hope so.
When all was said and done, and Joe was asked what he thought of the most expensive bottle of wine he will consume in his lifetime, his answer was “It was okay. It was good. It wasn’t great. It wasn’t terrible. It was fine.”
And there you have it. So much for your tree-tousand-seven-huntred-and-fifty bottle-uh wine, Bobby!
Sorry Joe, I believe you just got flayed.
Why do I hear Billy Joel singing in the background? “A bottle of red…a bottle of white…costs so much I lost my appetite…”