We have all read the rants here about restaurants that push wine, or that just don't do anything to make the wine experience a pleasent one. I'd like to report on an incident that was just the opposite.
Recently we decided, on the spur of the moment, to have dinner at Mrs. K's Toll House in Silver Spring, MD. The house has been there as a toll house since the very early 1900's and has been a restaurant since 1930. I don't know how I have managed to not eat there in the 25 years I've lived here, but this was our first visit. The meal was excellent for the most part, the service wonderful, but it was happened when I ordered the wine that I want to recount.
The wine list is huge, abet fairly expensive (but it is Montgomery County MD where the county does its best to screw up anything having to do with wine) but has wines in all price ranges. There were 5 or 6 vintages of Ridge Monte Bello available (Jake wanted to order the 1994 but that was outside my price range for this evening) as well as several pages of Bordeaux and even a 1979 Petrus, which did not have a price (but obviously well outside the price I was looking for) It was difficult choosing. After deciding that we would order a glass of Pinot Grigio for my wife to go with her fish, and a bottle of a red for the steaks Jake and I were having, I settled on a 2001 Worthy Sophie's Cuvee, but the server came back and said they couldn't find it, but did I want the 2004. I declined and asked for the list again and ordered a 2003 Chateau la Nerthe CNdP. About 10 minutes later the server came back with two bottles in his hand and again said they could not find that vintage. He had called the owner and was told to offer us our choice, at the price of the la Nerthe. He then presented a 1999 Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Reserve and a 1999 Louis Latour Château Corton Grancey to choose from. I was sorely tempted to take the Mondavi, but knew my wife would much prefer a Pinot Noir (she does not like Cabernet) so I chose the Corton. It was fantastic, as only properly aged Burgundy can be. Lots of sweet ripe cherry, casis and plums with fine, well integrated tannins and a fairly long finish. Needless to say, we all loved it. I've often been at restaurants where they offer to substitute a wine for what you ordered at the same price, but I thought the choices of substitutions, considering the wines I had asked for, was above and beyond what I would have reasonably expected. And to top it off, after the meal, the manager took us for a tour of the large, and very cool wine cellars. They were huge, and having just taken delivery of a large shipment of wines, were packed, which might explain the difficulty in finding the original choices.