Couple at NYC Restaurant Order $18 Pinot, Receive $2,000 Mouton by Mistake

1989 Mouton Rothschild

It’s hard to say what the bigger outrage was in the comedy of errors that played out recently at Keith McNally’s Balthazar, in SoHo. Was it that the clumsy wait staff served a 1989 premier cru Mouton Rothschild priced at $2,000 to an unsuspecting young couple who had ordered an $18 Pinot Noir? Or was it that no one involved noticed the error, most notably the quartet of Wall Street businessmen who had ordered the rare elixir?

My vote goes to the latter, who according to a report at Decanter suspected the wine they had been served was not a Mouton. Suspected!

The young couple who had received the pricey bottle, meantime, “jokingly pretended to be drinking an expensive wine,” said McNally, who ended up footing the considerable bill for the error.

He should have at least passed on some of the expense to his staff, which for some reason decanted both wines. Why on earth any waiter or, worse, sommelier would decant an $18 bottle of wine is beyond me.

Staff at Balthazar poured the two wines into identical decanters, but the one containing Mouton Rothschild 1989 was accidentally sent to the young couple’s table, said the New York restaurant’s owner, Keith McNally.

Both tables, for what it’s worth, left happy with the Wall Streeter with the lofty expense account praising the lesser wine’s purity. Undoubtedly, he will be back to order another of the world’s great wines based not on his capacity to appreciate a rare vintage but because of the price tag.

That is the unkindest cut of all to true wine lovers.