Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >
May 22, 2008 07:28 PM

Unhappy with a wine

I was at CRISPO and ordered a white wine in the $30 range. It was unsatisfactory to all three of us who tasted it. The wine waiter said he could not send it back to his supplier and insisted we were stuck with it. In fifty years of dining I have only sent back one wine and it was gracefully replaced. How do you think it should have been handled this?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. As I just replied to your other post on this:

    You can't return a wine just because it is not to your taste, only if it has gone bad. You do not have a legitimate complaint.

    1. As rrems said, if the wine was bad, they should replace it. If you and your friends just didn't like it, there's really not much you guys can do.

      Sometimes when I've had problems deciding between a few wines, I've had the waitstaff bring me samples so I can decide (they do this automatically; I never ask them to do this). I think that behavior is extremely generous, and would never expect that type of treatment at a restaurant. But it does say something great about the level of service where they really try to make sure the customer is pleased.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Miss Needle

        Agree - recently, I dined at Ouest on the UWS, and couldn't decide which of two reds I wanted (ordering by the glass); the waiter brought me small tastings of each. I don't expect this either and was very pleasantly surprised; it was greatly appreciated (and certainly strengthened my positive opinion of the restaurant).

        1. re: Striver

          Could the wine have been bad? I have had several instances where I thought a wine was just bad but my wife figured out it had turned. It was a matter of training myself to figure out where on the palate you get that effervesce taste. Corked wine is much more common than you think. Many waiters won't give you the benefit of the doubt on turned wine unless it is pure vinegar. Having said all that, what is a bad wine doing on the list in the first place? They should have been gracious and taken it back. The $10 or $15 that it would cost them is cheap vs. the bad press the OP has given them. I know I won't go to Crispo now....

          1. re: jcooper

            They should have been gracious? If there is nothing wrong with the wine except the OP did not like it? You won't go to Crispo because of this?

            1. re: jcooper

              sometimes when ordering by the glass, the wine may be oxidized, old, bad, or, it may just be poorly made. I always ask the waiter his opinion and almost always, my hunch is correct and they open a new bottle.

            2. re: Striver

              If it is a wine that they serve by the glass they can give you a taste because they have open bottles, but if it is only available by the bottle, they can't give out samples.

          2. If you request help with the sommelier, he makes a recommendation, and you don't like it, then they _may_ take it back. They of course have no obligation to do so, but they more than likely will.

            If you chose it yourself, and you don't like it, you're stuck with it. It's the same with food. You don't order something, taste it and say, "take it back, I change my mind".

            Only if the wine is spoilt or corked will a restaurant take a wine back unconditionally.

            1. A few thoughts on this:

              1. "unsatisfactory" is a subjective description. I totally agree with the others that whether or not a restaurant should replace a wine simply because you don't like it is an issue of their own policy and the worth of the gesture to their overall business strategy. The difficulty in this, however, is that anyone in the wine business (or most anyone seriously into wine) will tell you that people have widely differing palates and style preference. .That said, it isn't great PR for a restaurant to challenge the customer's opinion if they're saying a wine is flawed. If you clearly said you just didn't like it, that's different, but something I think most good establishments would be reluctant to be hard-nosed about.

              2. If the wine was bad (corked, oxidized, Bretts), I would be hard-pressed to believe the restaurant could NOT return it to their supplier, though that should not be their sole criterion for the decision.

              3. I can't speak for the specific situation, of course, but most wine wholesalers will take back a wine simply on the word of the restaurant/retailer. By the time they actually get the bottle back it's far too late for them to agree or disagree as to whether it's was bad when opened (some don't even want it back). So...... a wine you 'just don't like' is probably just as simple for them to return (truth be told). This becomes a factor of the relationship between the resto and it's supplier (ie- how often it happens).

              Unfortunately, this sounds like one of those 'you probably had to be there to get the whole feel of it' things.