I'm always on the lookout for restaurants or bars with a wine happy hour. Whether its specials on flights, by the glass, or bottles, I love a wine deal....when it's good wine and in stock.
I meet a girlfriend for dinner at a restaurant in Capitol Hill. I'd been there before and enjoyed their food so their Thursday special of 1/2 off on bottles of wine was a no-brainer. The waitress hands me a wine list and I look for reds, because that's what my friend enjoys and it's cold outside. There were 5 to choose from and all fairly affordable at regular price, 1/2 off was a steal! I decide on a bottle of the malbec and tell my waitress. The rest of the conversation goes a little something like this
"I'm sorry ma'am, we're out of that one."
"Ok then, I'll have the tempranillo."
"Um, I don't think we have that either."
"The pinot noir from Chile?"
"Nope, that's not in. But we do have a substitute."
I take a glance at the table next to me and they have a CA pinot on their table. "Is that the substitute?"
"Yes it is."
What the heck?! I'm 0 for 3 now. Only 2 reds left! We ask about the merlot on the menu, another substitution and this substitution was a super value...if purchased in a store. I just could not pay restaurant markup for a wine that I know costs like $5.99 at a wine shop. Last choice, the California cab. Being broken down at this point we just ordered the cab. Waitress comes back with one of my faves, Casillero del Diablo!! For my palate, this was an upgrade!
But this whole incident got me to thinking, even though the bottles were 1/2 off, is it OK for a restaurant to have a wine list in which NONE of the reds listed are available? And what is the proper substitution in this case? Region, price point, popularity?
Good thing I've been to this restaurant before and truly enjoy their food, otherwise I doubt I would consider returning. Next time though, I will definitely stick with ordering a wine by the glass.