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$16,640 wine bill at ‘21’ Club raises eyebrows

 


Two business associates broke the bank and the rules when they ordered two bottles of 1982 Petrus for $16,640 at the ‘21’ Club in May.

According to an article in the New York Post, the first-time diners to the famous New York City restaurant downed the first bottle while eating their appetizers of Peekytoe crab and Caesar salad. Shortly after, they ordered a second bottle from Phil Pratt, wine director, as they moved into their main course of Dover sole and steelhead salmon.

The 1982 Petrus is a legendary, full-flavored red wine from the Bordeaux village of Pomerol (and not Saint-Emilion as was reported in the Post) that is generally paired with red meats or heartier dishes. The red and black fruit flavors, oak, earth and spice would clearly overwhelm the seafood dishes ordered by the businessmen.
Additionally, the $400 gratuity left on the bill was a mere 2 percent of the total, far less than a normal restaurant tip of 18-20 percent.

Perhaps a better pairing for the crab, sole and salmon would have been the 1989 Montrachet “Marquis de Laguiche” from Joseph Drouhin, offered at the restaurant for $1200 a bottle. This rich, elegant Chardonnay from Burgundy, with flavors of pear, apple and hazelnut would have been a brilliant match for the dinner. Furthermore, with the two bottles totalling only $2400, there would have been plenty of money left for some dessert wine; a 1986 Chateau d’Yquem from Sauternes at $1500 per bottle would sing with the plate of fresh berries ordered by the gentlemen. Since it’s hard to drink a whole bottle of Sauternes (even if it’s d’Yquem), the tip-shy gentlemen could then have, at least, left the remaining wine for the service staff and made everyone happy.

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Comments

  • Snooth User: tabednar
    Hand of Snooth
    94930 2,449

    Anyone ever try Petrus?

    Aug 28, 2012 at 10:15 AM


  • Snooth User: Craig Donofrio
    Hand of Snooth
    1120324 14,375

    Yes, I have been lucky enough to try Petrus on a number of different occasions. Even in lesser vintages, the wine is layered with earth, fruit and spice and never seems to be out of balance. For me, the most impressive element is probably the texture. Petrus seems to have a silky, polished texture even when the wine is young. With the proper cellaring, the wine has an amazing ability to be rich and concentrated up front, yet also refined and elegant as you savor the long finish. Try it at least once...hopefully on someone else's dime! Thanks for the comment. Cheers!

    Aug 28, 2012 at 11:15 AM


  • Snooth User: Scott Cohen
    1115596 35

    I have tried many vintages of Petrus over the years and this wine always benefits from age. The true complexity of this wine never really shows before the 10 to 15 year mark and only gets better up to 25 or 35 years depending on the vintage. It is only worth the money if you truly love to linger over you wine looking for layers and layers of flavors. If you are just going to down the bottle with bad pairings you might as well be drinking any rock gut you can find at the grocery store for $5.99

    Aug 28, 2012 at 2:15 PM


  • Snooth User: tabednar
    Hand of Snooth
    94930 2,449

    Thanks for the reply guys! Maybe Snooth with have a Petrus Virtual Tasting next and they will send us some samples from the Chateau? ...haha

    Aug 28, 2012 at 3:51 PM


  • Snooth User: lfc reds
    823019 70

    I'm curious...

    Is it unwritten rule the tip amount should be ~18% of total bill? I've heard several variations and am not sure what to trust.

    Some say tips amount should be calculated based on the bill before tax is applied.

    Some say the beverages/wine portion of the bill is a special case when it comes to tips. If so, what are the specifics for tipping the beverages/wine portion?

    In the example of this article, if someone order bottles in the tens of thousands, is it really expected $3000 tips per bottle? Of course the obvious counter is: if you can't afford or don't want to "tip properly" then you really shouldn't order such expensive bottles.

    Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts!

    Aug 29, 2012 at 3:13 PM


  • Snooth User: lfc reds
    823019 70

    Oops, obviously it is $8k per bottle, so $3k in tips for the 2 bottles??

    Aug 29, 2012 at 3:20 PM


  • Snooth User: Craig Donofrio
    Hand of Snooth
    1120324 14,375

    Good points Scott. i completely agree with your suggestion to drink Petrus with a good amount of bottle age. Furthermore, I also think the wine's pedigree and price warrant enough respect to give it some well-thought food pairings. However, at the end of the day, enjoying a special wine in great company can often elevate the experience in the same way great food will...Thanks for your comments, cheers!

    Aug 29, 2012 at 6:50 PM


  • Snooth User: Eric Guido
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    92549 181,712

    I think it's an unsaid rule that you tip 10% of the cost of the bottle... However, from someone in the industry, I wouldn't expect a consumer to tip the staff $240 more because of their bottle of wine. Especially since the profit made on those two bottles probably dwarfed the rest of the bill.

    Aug 29, 2012 at 7:33 PM


  • Snooth User: Eric Guido
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    92549 181,712

    Opps, I meant $2400!!!

    Aug 29, 2012 at 7:34 PM


  • Snooth User: zufrieden
    Hand of Snooth
    259386 4,139

    Chateau Petrus - which I admit to having never tasted - is undoubtedly a wine with all the characteristics we seek in a wine - and then some just for good measure. However, as a something of a skeptic in things economic (and I am an economist), I would ascribe about 85% of the price premium of this wine (or some high percentage more in line with your own personal preference) is due to product attributes that have less to do with the hedonic properties of the wine per se than the psycho-social attributes attached to ownership and consumption of a rare, much worshiped commodity. So, Eric, feel free to tip 10 dollars.

    Aug 29, 2012 at 11:51 PM


  • Snooth User: Craig Donofrio
    Hand of Snooth
    1120324 14,375

    I respectfully disagree with this comment. It's not really appropriate to tip based on the amount of pleasure derived from a wine. You are tipping a service staff (based on their food and beverage sales) that has also felt the effects of the recession. Keep in mind, people who work in restaurants like '21' are usually highly trained professionals that are paid minimum wage by the restaurant. They make up the rest of their income through tips. Yes, this wine is a rare commodity and the restaurant has owned it, like a blue chip stock, since the mid '80's. They have an interest to raise the price when they can to reflect current demand. A customer that accepts the restaurant's price should also accept the fact they are expected to leave an appropriate tip for the service staff (who probably pool their tips). Twenty percent on the food and beverage total is normal for good service. In extreme cases, where the individual bottles are $500 or more, it is acceptable to tip 20 percent on the food and then something less (10%) on the wine. That said, for a $16,000 bill, a tip of around $1,600 would be reasonable, although anything above $1000 would probably be adequate. I think it's fair to assume that if you have $16,000 to spend on two bottles of wine, you probably have the ability to leave the $1,600 gratuity. People that have a resistance to leaving a reasonable tip on expensive wine always have another great option. They can forage fine wine auction lists (like Zachys and Christie's), research the pedigree and storage conditions of the bottles, purchase the bottles and then cook dinner at home or bring the wine to a BYOB. So, bottom line: no matter how you feel about tipping on wine, there are plenty of opportunities to do the right thing. Thanks for the comments, cheers!

    Aug 30, 2012 at 8:50 AM


  • I used to drink it in 1960 when the New York Restaurants sold Ch. Petrus for less than $ 20.00 a btl. Those were the days!

    Aug 30, 2012 at 1:23 PM


  • Snooth User: srsbmk
    250363 1

    Let's get real here. Good service is good service and deserves to be compensated. But, how much harder is it to pour an $8,000 bottle vs. a $100 bottle!! Leave a nice tip, fine. But do you have to tip 10% or more on an extraordinarily price bottle I don't think so!!

    Aug 31, 2012 at 6:48 PM


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