After telling The Wineaux Guy™ the adventures we had at the Caesar’s Palace Bacchanal Buffet on Christmas, he came up with a new term – Wine Fubar. Yeah. It fits.

I have a rule – actually more of a self-directive: Never, ever go to The Strip on a major holiday or to any Strip buffet when it first opens for business. I realized after a couple of years of trying that it was a total and complete waste of my valuable time.

But then there’s family. What can you do?

My present for the holidays to my family was to take them where they wanted for Christmas. Our tradition – more or less – is to go the Rio Village Seafood Buffet. We’ve tried a couple of other places, such as the Wynn when it first opened (we still haven’t successfully managed to get in – a long story), but we almost always end up at the Rio. Except for the year when they were renovating and we whimpered. Had snacks at home because we hadn’t formulated an eating-out Plan B.

I was looking forward to a great late Christmas afternoon meal of all things swimmy. My family, on the other hand, really wanted to go back to Caesar’s Bacchanal Buffet for their Christmas dinner. While somewhat wary, I agreed. After all, we’d been there before when they first opened, and although the line was long (a two-hour wait), the food was delicious and beautifully prepared.

I knew there were going to be problems when we left the rehab hospital after visiting Mom and it took us an hour to get from there into the valet of Caesar’s Palace. Usual time? About 20 minutes. And of course people were driving crazily.

I hinted that maybe we could reconsider and go elsewhere where we wouldn’t have to deal with the traffic. But the wish for Caesar’s was not to be denied. Oh well.

When we finally got into the casino and found the line for the Buffet, we were stunned. We were told that the wait would be over three hours. While I was ready to walk at that time, Aunt Joyce just shrugged her shoulders.

Pink wine at Caesar's

Mysterious pink wine – White Zin? Rose?

It was okay. I had, after all, promised so I got into line, iPhone in hand, and started playing games in order to while away the time.

Well, the over three hours turned into over five hours, and we rationalized it by saying that, well, we’ve been waiting this long, so….

When we finally got up to the cashier’s, I was shocked at how much it cost. We paid $39.00 (sans club card) when we first went. I paid $54.00 each (with the club card discount) on Christmas. And here’s the kicker – if I paid an extra $20.00 (per person!), we could get into the “Express Line” (wait time – an hour, maybe two) for faster service. The entire bill could have come up to well over $200.

For a buffet. Right. By the way, I looked at the menu at Gordon Ramsay’s new Pub and Grill, and we could have had a quiet time and nice meal, spent half the money, and been able to get out of there much earlier.  But I digress.

Did I check the Christmas Day prices ahead of time? Tried to! Nowhere on the site did it indicate that the prices on the holiday would be that much higher. While there was a note that with a club card the price would be in the 40’s, even with tax it would not have added up to $54.00.  I felt like a, um, *lollipop* if you get my drift.

Anyway, we finally got the opportunity to sit down and between her hurtin’ feet and my complainin’ knee, we were a couple of pathetic people. Byron was pretty much unscathed.

I went into a little detail about the food here, on MirePoix Vegas.

But I want to talk about the wine FUBAR. For youngsters out there or for those of you who are unfamiliar with old or military slang, that means F(insert your favorite “F” word here)ed Up Beyond All Recognition. I would tell you what is the suitable F word to use here, but there may be children watching.

After waiting for such a long time, I was ready for a glass of wine. I looked at the provided wine list, chuckled at the prices, and saw a French Rosé from the Loire Valley, described as a little sweet on the front end, and finishing quite dry. Hm. Considering the variety of food I was planning to eat, that sounded like it would pair with most stuff. Wines from the Loire are fruity, but the ones I’ve had have a minerally character. Besides, it was quite a bit cheaper than the $17.00 glass of Calera Pinot Noir.

I put my order in, and when Aunt Joyce and Byron returned from the hunt, I left to find more food.  When I returned, instead of a nice glass of Rosé, there was a cheapie wine glass and a single-serve bottle of Sutter Home White Zinfandel. wtf?!?

I think it takes about 30 seconds of perusing this site to know how I feel about White Zin.  Even Aunt Joyce said that while she doesn’t know anything about wine, she does know that I would never order White Zin. While I did not rant (you would have been soooo proud of me!), I did point out that this minuscule bottle of White Zin is not the same thing as a Rosé from the Loire, even if they are the same color.  After much bowing and scraping, a cheapie wine glass filled with a pink liquid reappeared. I sniffed, swirled (sort of), and tasted.  Sweet on the front end, sweet on the back. No mineral, no dry. All sweet.  I pointed out that it felt like White Zin to me.

Horrified waiter person brought the bartender who arrived with the bottle in hand – 2011 Sauvion Rosé d’Anjou Loire Valley – and showed me that what I had was a genuine wine from the Loire, but that it is indeed, quite fruity and a bit on the sweet side.  I pointed out that the description on the wine list indicated that it has a dry finish in spite of being very fruity on the front end, and because this wine was fruit from beginning to end, I was suspicious. They offered me another wine, and I chose – what else? – the Calera Pinot Noir. While I was waiting for my glass of the Pinot, I continued to swirl the Rosé, and was indeed greeted by the more austere nose of Loire as the wine opened up.  I was not in the least bit embarrassed.  Mainly because of the White Zin.

When they brought me an overfilled cheapie glass of this stellar Pinot, I was appalled. At the glass, not at the wine. Which brings me to my list of Caesar’s Palace Fubars for the wine. At least in the buffet.

  • White Zinfandel instead of the Rosé that I ordered.  Really? Did you not think that I wouldn’t notice?
  • Considering the prices charged for single glasses of wine, the least they could do is to have decent glasses.  Remember, this is the locale of Vegas Uncork’d, a major wine event.  They would be horrified. Besides, it’s not like the Buffet isn’t bringing in some sizable cash. I’m sure they could afford some halfway decent wine glasses. It’s the same type of glass they probably use at Denny’s to serve White Zin.
  • Overfilling the glass. But considering the size and cheapness of the glass, I guess that’s inevitable. But definitely not necessary.  Maggiano’s, for instance, has Bordeaux-ish glasses engraved with an M. The bartenders know to fill the glasses up to the bottom of the M.  Consistent, good pours in great glasses equals a far more satisfactory wine experience for the customer.  And they don’t even host Vegas Uncork’d!
  • Overcharging for good wine in bad glasses.  See above rants.

While we will probably visit again, the Christmas Day experience left me pretty jaded and indifferent.  It’ll be a while. While buffets – in my opinion – are great places for breakfast or brunch, they aren’t necessarily the best of places to go for a nice dinner. While many have great food, sometimes it’s just better to have someone serving you without jostling in line with often fragrant tourists.

From now on, I’m sticking with my basic creed – I will not, under any circumstances or for any person, loved or otherwise, go anywhere on The Strip on a major holiday. Period. Ever.

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