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Wine 9

TCA Issue

Bill Hunt | Oct 29, 201104:46 PM

I was hosting a dining event at a Michelin starred restaurant the other night. We had the private dining room, and 4 8-tops. I had been given the menu and the wine list, and had made the selections.

When I arrived, I tasted each wine, but obviously not each bottle of each wine - just the first bottle of the four.

The event started very well, and the Champagne for the passed appetizers went beautifully. The first seated-course and the Macon Chard seemed to be going well too, until my wife (next to me) passed her Chard for me to smell and taste - CORKED! However, my pour was great. I quickly sniffed the glasses of two diners to my left (good friends), plus the gentleman to wife's right. All were good. Wife's had minor TCA taint, but it was easy to pick up. I called the service captain over (no sommelier on duty), and told him of the issue. Apparently, my wife's glass was either from a slightly tainted bottle, or maybe had been topped-up from one. We tried to figure out which bottle was responsible, but with 4 servers, that was tough. I went around smelling (even for those guests, who did not know me), and seemed to isolate 4 other glasses around the room. Those were instantly replaced, and we had zero additional problems.

Obviously, the "cure" would have been for someone to sample each, and every bottle, before it was served, but that had not happened.

We had possibly caught all, or at least most of the tainted wine, but not without a bunch of sniffing. The levels of taint in those other glasses seemed to be more than what my wife had been poured (supports the "topping up" theory), but was still not enough for me to pick up, just by walking around the tables.

Not sure what a better scheme would have been, other than a dedicated taster for each bottle opened, but I would be interested in hearing others' thoughts, as there might have something that I missed, in the heat of hosting and a tainted bottle.

Not sure how many of the other recipients even noticed, but as I had chosen the wines to pair with the dishes, I wanted each guest to have the best possible wines.

Just curious - and the guests did not seem any worse for the wear - most retired to the Dorchester bar, when the meal was over, and we did Ports and Sherries, until nearly dawn.


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