Okay – so Eric Titus, co-owner of Titus Vineyards, is coming to town and wants to have lunch with me to taste through his portfolio. I look up his wines and find that he makes BIG red wines. A steakhouse is the obvious choice. It’s been a while since I’ve been to BLT Steak in DC, so I figure I’ll give it a whirl.
I called the restaurant to make reservations. I explained to the young woman who answered the phone that I am meeting the owner of a winery at the restaurant to do a WINE TASTING. I politely asked her to have their sommelier call me to discuss details. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. No call back. So a couple of days later I called again. I once again explained to the young lady who answered the phone who I was meeting and what I was planning on doing over lunch and requested to speak with the sommelier. Nothing. Well, at least they’re consistent.
I met Eric at BLT Steak yesterday for lunch as planned. We were shown to our table and he pulled out a couple bottles of wine (2009 Zinfandel and 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon). No sooner are the bottles on the table when the server shows up to inform us that his “manager” wants us to know that the restaurant has a $29 corkage fee and we can only open one bottle. My blood boiled. I calmly-but-sternly explained three things to our server (very nice guy, by the way);
First, I called the restaurant twice to discuss the arrangements with the sommelier and never heard back from anyone. Definitely uncool.
Second, I have attended wine tastings at the restaurant in the past where multiple bottles have been opened. So what’s different about this?
And Third – my favorite – the District of Columbia’s policy on corkage does not allow a restaurant to charge more than $25 per bottle and has a two bottle minimum!
Nothing pisses me off faster than the combination of arrogance and ignorance. Evidently, the manager had a healthy dose of both. The server disappeared for a few minutes and then returned with the appropriate glassware. He apologized and opened both bottles. The lunch went off without a hitch (the Hanger steak was excellent). But the coup de grâce was that when the check showed up at the table, TWO corkage fees where on the bill (at least they were $25 each). I was disappointed that the restaurant did not at least pretend to make amends for their faux pas. Oh well. Next time, I’ll hit up Capital Grill. They know how to treat a wine tasting when they see one…