A brilliant sting!

12 10 2006

Where do I start? This is just such a *great* sting, and the pity of it is that the person being stung (we’ll call him “X”) probably will never realise it, and the person who is behind the sting (we’ll call him “Y”) will probably never get to see X’s reaction. Nonetheless, it’s a great sting…

To understand the nuances, it helps if you know something about Australian wine, particularly the reverence in which Penfolds Grange Hermitage is held. And it helps to know that both X and Y like their red wine, and both profess to know quite a bit about it. Ready?

X worked with Y for some years. Last year, X brought in a case of ‘vin ordinaire’ red – a Pinot Noir – to have for Friday afternoon drinks. The wine was *very* ordinary, to say the least (some thought it cheap and nasty… especially “nasty”), and we were all very glad when the last bottle was finally finished. But it really wasn’t – X had held back a bottle and gave it to Y as his “secret Santa” gift at the company Christmas party, to great guffaws of laughter from the rest of us who knew how much Y hated that wine.

A few weeks ago, X resigned from the company and we had a farewell lunch for him. Y couldn’t be at the lunch as he was on company business somewhere in the world. The company gave X two pairs of Reidel red wine glasses – a beautiful gift, and especially fitting for someone who likes wine. And Y, through the Managing Director, gave X a bottle of 1987 Penfolds Grange Hermitage! A magnificent gift by anyone’s standards. All at our restaurant table – including X – were most impressed. And some of us were surprised at the enormity of this gift as we didn’t think that X and Y really got along all that well.

(Sidenote: For those who don’t know, a single bottle of 1987 Grange sells for between $200 and $400 Australian dollars, depending on where you buy it. We’re not talking cheap wine here!)

Time marches on… Y is away from work on various things for a few weeks. And today he and I are both in the office together, where he tells me the story of the Grange he gave to X. I’ll cut to the chase:

  • Y stored the gifted bottle of ‘cheap and nasty’ wine on a ledge in his shed, in direct sun, for 10 months.
  • Y very carefully opened a bottle of 1987 Grange and shared it with his wife (cut the seal super carefully, removed the cork as carefully).
  • Y just left an inch or so of wine and sediment in the bottle.

You see where I’m going with this, right?

Y then poured the bottle of ‘cheap and nasty’ into the Grange bottle, recorked it, and glued the seal very carefully so you wouldn’t notice that he’d tampered with the wine. He then gift wrapped the “Grange” and gave it to the Managing Director to give to X.

X called Y this week to thank him most profusely and humbly for such a magnificent gift.

Now, where will this story end? Well, it hasn’t ended yet – and no-one knows quite how it will end as there are a number of scenarios that could play out, none of which we’ll probably ever know about. X could:

  • Lay the “Grange” down for another 10 years before opening it…
  • Open it on a very special occasion with his wife, and/or friends…
  • Get permission to take it to a very swanky restaurant and have it opened there…
  • Take it to one of the free top-up days that Penfolds conducts in the capital cities of Australia each year and get the wine checked… (now wouldn’t we love to be a fly on the wall for that!)
  • Sell the “Grange” on eBay…
  • Give Y a bottle of Henschke’s Hill of Grace for this Christmas!

Such sweet revenge! And so carefully planned!