A waiter at one of the UK’s foremost steakhouse chains made one of the most expensive mistakes imaginable when they inadvertently served some lucky customers the wrong bottle of wine. The unidentified member of staff accidentally provided diners with a bottle 2001 Chateau le Pin Pomerol during a meal at Hawksmoor Manchester, a vintage described as “legendary” by wine aficionados, instead of the £260 2001 Chateau Pichon Longueville Contesse de Lalande that they had originally requested. The mistake ended up costing the restaurant nearly £4,500.
The error occurred after customers ordered a bottle “of the same vintage” as the sought after le Pin, causing the initial confusion. According to Hawksmoor founder Will Beckett, not only were the customers drinking "something spectacular", but they enjoyed it so much that they requested a second bottle. By the time staff realised that they had actually been served something approximately 17 times the price of what they were expecting, it was too late.
Predictably, social media was quick to pounce on the pricey mishap. As soon as the news became public, requests came flooding in from couples hoping to be served by the exact same member of staff, with one Twitterer suggesting that “I think it makes sense at this point for Hawksmoor to confirm the name and shift pattern of this employee so we can all go and ensure that we help correct any further errors of this nature.”
Despite what might have ended up as a career ending faux pas for the waitress involved, Hawksmoor have taken the incident pretty well. In the immediate aftermath, the restaurant tweeted words of encouragement to their mortified staffer, posting, “To the customer who accidentally got given a bottle of Chateau le Pin Pomerol 2001, which is £4500 on our menu, last night - hope you enjoyed your evening! To the member of staff who accidentally gave it away, chin up! One-off mistakes happen and we love you anyway.” This was followed by a photo of the two bottles side by side, captioned, "they look pretty similar OK".
In fact, the group’s benevolent response won praise from several commentators for not "flying off the handle", while one Twitterer sagely pointed out that, “...mistakes happen, it's how you deal with them (the mistakes) that make the difference!” This was reaffirmed by Becket, who confirmed that the staff member was "brilliant, and we know she is brilliant", so was in no danger of further punishment. It just goes to show that even the most expensive accidents often aren’t the end of the world.
The wine itself is widely hailed as one of the most sought after vintages on the planet. The famous wine reviewer Robert Parker Jr gave le Pin Pomerol a perfect “Parker Rating” during a test in 2009, writing, “Exceptional purity and a blockbuster nose of mocha, black cherry liqueur, mulberries and plums are followed by an extravagantly rich wine that seems to have a nearly endless finish. Truly haute couture of Merlot, so to speak, this wine has a finish that goes well past a minute, with wonderfully sweet tannins and a provocative, concentrated, broad mouthfeel that is remarkably luxurious. This is amazing stuff!” With an average case price of a little over £31,000, le Pin is not something to be taken lightly.