Capella Hotel’s $3,500 wine dinner postponed indefinitely

Bad news for D.C. oenophiles with $3,500 to spare: The Capella Hotel's "Once in a Lifetime" wine tasting and dinner, originally scheduled for March 15, has been indefinitely postponed. General Manager Alex Obertop said the hotel's restaurant, the Grill Room, is retooling the idea of the wine dinner for a later date. "The guests were part of this decision," he said.

epa04098925 A glass is filled with red wine for a wine tasting at the Vinisud wine fair in Montpellier, France, 24 February 2014. Vinisud is the biggest Mediterranean wine fair where international merchants meet.This exhibition showcases Mediterranean wines representing more than half of world production, according to the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV). EPA/GUILLAUME HORCAJUELO
(OIV). EPA/GUILLAUME HORCAJUELO

Before the hotel decided to postpone the dinner, 12 of the 20 available spots had been claimed. The $3,500 price tag might sound steep, and while a wine lover wouldn't exactly be getting a deal -- the hotel has to make a profit, of course -- he or she would get their money's worth. Using wine-searcher.com's aggregated estimate of the average price of each bottle, the pre-dinner wine tasting's 20 offerings range from an approximately $84 bottle of 2006 Felton Road Pinot Noir to an approximately $17,857 bottle of 2005 La Romanee-Conti.

Since there would have been up to 20 people attending the dinner, each bottle would have to be divided approximately 20 ways. So just one diner's taste of the La Romanee-Conti would be nearly $900 -- almost a third of the cost of the dinner alone. Add to that some of the other blue-chip bottles, like the 2005 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon (average price: $2,428), 2005 Pingus (average price: $1,062), and a 2005 Chateau Petrus (average price: $4,470), plus a luxe five-course dinner of diver scallop carpaccio, duck breast and foie gras, black truffle and Iberian ham, and bison strip loin, each with wine pairings. The package also included a hotel room at the Capella (rates begin at $595 per night on Saturday) and breakfast the next morning.

Obertop said that the dinner may be retooled to pair dishes with the rare wine, rather than just a tasting beforehand. A date for the event has not yet been determined. In the meantime, big spenders can drown their sorrows with other selections from the Capella's drink menu: the barrel-aged Manhattan is among the most expensive cocktails in Washington.

Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts for the Weekend section and Going Out Guide.
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