A Wine Rip-off & Tourist Trap

I was meeting friends (and their out-of-town friends who I hadn’t met before) for un aperitif at one of the cafés at the Port in Nice, before going to another friend’s “vernissage” held just around the corner. When I arrived, I found them sitting out front of  “Le Privé du Vieux Port“; they had just ordered a bottle of  rosé wine. We were busy making introductions and chatting when la serveuse  brought the wine, and began opening it.  I did notice out of the corner of my eye that she unscrewed the top, as there was no cork – a bit strange I mentally noted.  After we all tasted it and agreed it was too sweet and didn’t really like it, we checked the bottle label – “Gallo” from California.  My friend told me she had ordered “a rosé Provençale/locale” and that the girl had brought the wrong wine.  In the meantime, the waitress brought a bottle of red (with a cork) that one of the group had ordered – also “Gallo” brand.  As we debated and discussed the rosé error, with the bottle having been opened and 1/2 already poured into glasses, it was left undrunk, as we sipped on the red (better tasting, but still just an ordinary table wine).

We needed to get going, so decided to chalk it up to a live and learn moment ….. until ….. we got the bill:   60 Euros for the two bottles on wine!!  I asked the group if they had ordered from a wine menu – No!  Now it was time to verbally tackle the waitress (I also wanted to physically) and state that the price was outrageous for this wine, albeit “imported” from California, that most quality wines don’t even cost that much, and that she had in fact given us the wrong wine (apparently, the Provençale wine would have been even more expensive).  After arguing (politely) with her and a male worker, they finally reduced the bill to 50 Euros.

There were errors made on “both sides” of the table, to be sure, but I personally felt that they were taking advantage of foreigners/my friends.  There was a chalkboard propped near the entrance door that apparently had wines and prices listed, but my friends hadn’t noticed it nor had it been presented to them by the waitress.


– always ask for “la carte de vin” (wine/drink menu) before ordering
– ask the price if it’s not listed or you aren’t sure
– check the bottle’s label BEFORE it’s opened, in case of a misunderstanding
– don’t be shy or afraid to confirm any information you are clear about
– don’t let one incident dictate your overall perspective or viewpoint

As the saying goes, “you’re never too old to learn” – some life lessons just cost more than others!