Tag Archives: lessons

Sending wine back at a restaurant and other lessons

5 Jul

Last night a bunch of us went out for dinner and it fell to me to choose a wine. We wanted white so I went with a BC gewurztraminer from a winery that I really like. Not all the wines on their list had vintages but I didn’t really think much of it. Silly me! When it came I glanced quickly as it was presented and didn’t check the vintage. It was poured and it smelled funky! I swirled a couple of times and felt the pressure to make a decision – ugh! I hate it when this happens. I know the server didn’t make the wine so there’s really no need for me to worry that I’m offending anyone but it’s still makes me feel awkward. When a wine is obviously corked it’s easy: there’s no debate. Finally I admitted that it really wasn’t smelling right. No problem – it was taken back right away. It was when the second bottle came out that I noticed it was a 2009. Hmmm, perhaps that’s why I wasn’t getting the freshness I’d hoped for and why the vintage wasn’t listed on their menu. Were they trying to flog old stock on to unsuspecting customers? Hopefully not. The second bottle was marginally better but really not what I expected.This time the owner came over and he wasn’t willing to concede that this wine was past its prime. I didn’t want to push it, I know when to pick my battles, so we agreed to go with it.

The people I was with were really happy that I’d made the call on the first bottle. They smelled it too and were not impressed. None of them work in the industry and sending a bottle of wine back would probably make them feel even more uncomfortable than it does me. It sucks to think of how many customers suffer through a faulty bottle rather than say something. My advice though is to definitely solicit another opinion if you’re unsure. Even if the staff don’t fully agree they may prefer to switch your wine rather than have you feel disappointed.

The obvious lesson I learned is to ask, or check before the wine is opened, what the vintage is. Before we ordered the next bottle of BC riesling we did just that. Our server was happy to go check and sure enough it was 2011. Perfect! It was so fresh and lively and exactly what we were all in the mood for.

I was out having a casual dinner and wasn’t thinking so seriously about the wine. Now I know that if I have a certain expectation then I do need to pay more attention when ordering at a restaurant. I always check the vintage when I’m in a store. Perhaps someone really did expect this wine to hold up longer than it did but I wasn’t in the mood for an aged BC gewurz! To each their own.