I was nearing the end of a prolonged but pleasant drinks session at the flat of Arild and Astrid Sandborg, a delightful Norwegian couple living in Hong Kong.

Astrid, a lovely blonde with bright blue eyes, reminded us for the fourth time we had a nine o'clock dinner reservation at the Repulse Bay Hotel.

Arild poured the two of us the mandatory last minute "quickie." Astrid was driving. We finally left and went the short distance to the hotel.

The maitre d', skillfully hiding his impatience with our late arrival, showed us to a table on the terrace overlooking the cabana covered beach, and, beyond, Repulse Bay.

After another gin-on-the-rocks, we ordered beef for dinner. Arild, always the gracious host, signaled for the wine steward. After much discussion, a superior vintage Chateau Petruse Bordeaux was selected.

The entree served and the bottle opened, Arild took the traditional first sip. The steward, expecting an enthusiastic response to the house's finest, was distressed when Arild said, "This is not a good wine. Take it away, and bring us another bottle."

The steward, perhaps defensively, poured a small amount into the cup he was carrying and took a sip. "Mr. Sandborg, I find this wine quite satisfactory," he said.

Arild shook his head. Another bottle appeared. This time, there was no complaint.

It was now six o'clock the following afternoon when Astrid answered the doorbell at their flat. She called to her husband who had just returned home. "Arild, there's someone here to see you."

A surprised Arild greeted the hotel's wine steward carrying the bottle that had been so summarily dismissed the night before.

Astrid went to find three glasses. A small amount of wine was poured into each; and, with the steward's leadership, all took a sip.

"Now, Mr. Sandborg, what do you think of this wine?"

An embarrassed and impressed Arild agreed it was, indeed, a superior vintage.

Smiling and vindicated, the wine steward bowed and left. He took the bottle with him.