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Maybe the Wine Trade isn’t so bad


One of the perks of the wine trade is being invited by customers to lunch. Yesterday I was asked to the newly redecorated Garrick which looked glorious. Seated next to Peter O’Toole we ate well and drank far too well. A glass of Viognier, a glass and a half of an unnamed but delicious Chassagne Montrachet and then on to the great Jean Louis Chave’s Hermitage 1996 which is just reaching maturity.

All would have been well if my host hadn’t suggested having a glass of Poire Williams. I was introduced to this lethal distillate by Wum Kai-Nielsen close friend and head of Dubos Freres in the 80 and 90s. He would end off every meal with a bottle which would be left on the table often to be finished. It didn’t do him any good but we had some wonderful times together.

Anyway a large glass consumed I ventured off to Tottenham Court Road to return a camera bought the week before. Unfortunately the Tottenham Court Road Traders don’t appreciate you bringing back goods. A sale is a sale so they only offered me 75% of the value. This after my superb lunch and the beaker of Poire I found frustrating to say the least, so a slanging match ensued.

I accused them of being crooks and encouraged their customers to leave the shop and go to Peter Jones to buy their cameras which I did rather successfully. Surprisingly the shop keeper resented seeing potential business disappearing out of their door so the constabulary was called.

It transpired that they were completely in their rights to only offer me 75% of what I had spent. This seems iniquitous and raises the question what is the Office of Fair Trading for if can’t stop such practises.

However on the positive side it made me realise that our policy of taking back wine if a client doesn’t like it makes us more honourable tradesmen than those to be found in the Tottenham Court Road.