New York restaurant couple mistakenly served $2000 Mouton 1989 after ordering $18 Pinot.

A young couple who ordered an $18 Pinot Noir at Balthazar in New York found themselves enjoying Mouton Rothschild 1989 listed at $2,000 following a mix-up, according to owner Keith McNally.

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.

Four Wall Street businessmen at another table had ordered the Bordeaux First Growth – the most expensive wine on the restaurant’s list at $2,000 (£1,528) – but were served the $18 Pinot, the restaurant’s cheapest, said McNally on his Instagram account.

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One night at Balthazar four Wall Street businessmen ordered the restaurant's most expensive red wine: a $2000 bottle of Chateau Mouton Rothschild. One of the two managers transferred the Bordeaux into a decanter at a waiter's station. Simultaneously, a young couple ordered the restaurant's cheapest red wine, a $18 Pinot Noir, which they wanted pouring into a decanter. These two very different wines were now in identical decanters. Mistaking the $18 decanted wine for the $2000 Rothschild, the first manager formally poured the cheap wine to the businessmen. According to the manager, the host considered himself a wine connoisseur, and showing off to his guests, tasted the cheap wine before bursting into raptures about its 'purity'. The young couple who ordered the $18 Pinot Noir were inadvertently served the $2000 Chateau Mouton Rothschild. On taking their first sips of what they believed was cheap wine, they jokingly pretended to be drinking an expensive wine and parodied all the mannerisms of a wine snob. Five minutes later the two managers discovered their error and, horrified, phoned me at home. I rushed to Balthazar. The businessmen's celebratory mood was clearly enhanced by the wine they had mistakenly thought was the restaurant's most expensive. This put me in a dilemma: whether to come clean and admit the manager's mistake, or allow him to continue drinking the cheap wine in blissful ignorance. Taking the latter route would certainly be the easiest. Also the cheapest. It was unthinkable at this point to pull the real Bordeaux from the young couple's table. Besides, they were having too much fun acting out drinking a $2000 bottle of wine. I decided to veer from my normal behaviour, and tell both parties the truth. The Wall St. businessman responded by saying, "I THOUGHT that wasn't a Mouton Rothschild!" The others at the table nodded their heads in servile agreement. The young couple were ecstatic by the restaurant's mistake, and told me it was like the bank making an error in their favour. The trouble was, it was me who was down $2000, not the bank. Both parties left Balthazar happy that night, but the younger of the two left happier.

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A spokesperson for McNally clarified that the incident happened back in 2002.

None of the diners appeared to initially spot the error, McNally said, reporting that Balthazar’s manager on the night said the host of the business dinner praised the cheaper wine’s purity.

The young couple ‘jokingly pretended to be drinking an expensive wine’, he said.

Mouton Rothschild 1989 was rated 97 points by Decanter’s Jane Anson at a tasting in 2018, and it ranks among the Pauillac estate’s top vintages.

Balthazar’s manager realized the error after five minutes, said McNally, who was previously named the ‘restaurateur who invented downtown’ by the New York Times.

He said he rushed down to the restaurant and decided to come clean, despite both tables enjoying their evening with the wines they’d been served. He said it was ‘unthinkable’ to take the Mouton away from the couple.

He said the businessman replied that he had thought the wine wasn’t a Mouton, while ‘the young couple were ecstatic by the restaurant’s mistake, and told me it was like the bank making an error in their favour’.

McNally added, ‘The trouble was, it was me who was down $2,000, not the bank.’ Both parties left the restaurant happy, however.

It isn’t the only example of a restaurant making a mistake over the wine served.

Do you know when was the last time a mistake similar to this happened?

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