Wine Talk

Snooth User: elleystar

How do I return a bottle?

Posted by elleystar, Jul 16, 2010.

My husband looked at me like I'd grown a second head just now when I told him I wanted to take it back for a refund. But I know from reading on here that it is often done. I bought a bottle of SB tonight and it's completely undrinkable. (And trust me, I do not have the highest standards at the moment.) It tastes...sour and bad. I dumped my glass back into the bottle. I don't know how to tell if a wine is corked, and I am not sure if it's just that this wine is crappy in general, or if it was damaged at some point in storage or transit. Do I call the liquor store ahead of time? Do I take in the empty bottle? Please school me.

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Replies

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Reply by elleystar, Jul 16, 2010.

Just looked at the bottle and it's a 2005. That seems a bit old for SB, doesn't it?

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Reply by outthere, Jul 16, 2010.

Put the cork back in the bottle refrigerate it until you take it back. The sooner the better. And take back the full bottle so they can taste it and confirm the problem. Most reputable merchants will take back bad product.It's no different from buying something from a grocery store that turns out moldy or spoiled. They take the product abck and exchange it or refund your money.

Ask the liquor store for credit towards a different bottle of wine.

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Reply by outthere, Jul 16, 2010.

What was the wine? 

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Reply by outthere, Jul 16, 2010.

Generally they are drink me now wines.

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Reply by elleystar, Jul 16, 2010.

Montevina SB 2005 California

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Reply by outthere, Jul 17, 2010.

Its' beyond its' prime. I would tell the store owner that it should not have even been for sale at this time in its' life.

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Reply by gregt, Jul 17, 2010.

"I don't know how to tell if a wine is corked, and I am not sure if it's just that this wine is crappy in general, or if it was damaged at some point in storage or transit. Do I call the liquor store ahead of time? Do I take in the empty bottle?"

A, it's not a particularly good wine to start with and B, it's way past it's life expectancy.  So yes, it's a crappy wine in general.  Which may actually be a good thing in this case.

As far as taking back an empty bottle and asking for a refund or replacement - surely you can't be serious? Why not do that with every wine you ever buy?

Your description doesn't sound like the description of an old wine though, it just sounds like you don't like their SB. 

That you didn't like the wine is not the fault of the store owner, nor the winery.  If the owner is nice, he'll take it back, but he has no obligation to.  Essentially you're just saying you opened something, didn't like it, and now you want a refund.  Of course, he can't resell it and what's to say you're going to like whatever else you take home?   It's a $10 wine at best and if it's off vintage, it was probably marked down even more.

And There's no reason the store can't or shouldn't sell it - most customers would know that a five year old wine originally going for $10 isn't something that's going to blow their hair back.  The wine was basically for cooking or maybe sangria.

I would just chalk it up to learning and next time either ask the owner for some advice or buy wine that's a more recent vintage.  If I were the owner and you came into my store, my response would pretty much depend on what kind of day I was having and how pleasant you were.  I probably wouldn't give you  a refund but if I were in a good mood, I'd give you a discount on something else.

 

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Reply by dmcker, Jul 17, 2010.

GregT's points are all valid. That being said, you should still return a bottle that you think is damaged (as opposed to one you just don't like). Of course with wine still in it, and as soon as possible after opening and tasting it (and storing it in the fridge, corked, until you head for the store, as Greg recommends). This process will be one of the ways you learn about wine, its damage, and its retail purveyors.

Though you may not be familiar with all the varieties of wine damage, my guess is that you're probably dealing with a bum bottle. Even if the bottle is five years old (which shouldn't be a problem for most wines, but only the cheapest, weakest whites) it shouldn't be so far gone as to be utterly undrinkable, and especially 'sour'. Girdle your loins, go face the retailer, and let us know how it goes....

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Reply by elleystar, Jul 17, 2010.

Oh, trust me, I would never dream of taking back a bottle that I just didn't like!! I've had plenty of those and know it comes with the territory when I'm grabbing something I've never tried and know little about.

I walked in there after a long hot day working at the arts fest in the park, wanting something already cold and fairly cheap to take home and cool me off. Found this in the refrigerator (for $12, might I add), grabbed it and ran, expecting very little from it. I never even looked at the vintage.

The bottle does still have wine in it and is sitting in the fridge. It's terribly sour and actually made me a little sick to my stomach. Maybe I will just stop in there tomorrow and tell them about it, and let them take the lead. It's just hard when your entire monthly budget for wine is about $40, and you only get one bottle a weekend, to have paid hard earned money for something you can't even drink. Know what I mean?

Anyway it's not a thing that would ever have crossed my mind, except that I have seen members on here talking about taking damaged wine back multiple times. Surprised me too when I first heard of it.

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Reply by zufrieden, Jul 17, 2010.

If you are a regular customer, the merchant will likely take your word that the wine was faulty.  However, in future, it would be best to save most of the wine and allow the seller the opportunity to conduct an empirical test of your suspicions (i.e., taste the wine herself).

Personally, I have never had a problem returning a faulty wine; nor have I ever had anyone taste it to confirm my hypothesis of being corked or just off - all this notwithstanding the right of refusal by the merchant.

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Reply by elleystar, Jul 17, 2010.

zufrieden, thanks for your advice! I do have most of the wine still, just sitting there. I'm paranoid about driving anywhere with an open container to take it back though...funny right?

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Reply by gregt, Jul 17, 2010.

Elly - take it to the guys and ask them.  If you're really sincere, they'll pick that up.  Many years ago I took back a wine.  I told them that I'd take their word for it.  I thought the wine was awful but if they honestly tasted it and told me it was OK, I'd take it back home.

They tasted it, said it was great but way too young and one guy poured himself a glass for his sandwich.  I became a fan of that store at that minute.  And they gave me an equivalent wine.

But many people try to scam stores, they pour bad wine or something even worse into the bottle just to see if the store people will taste it.  And some people just don't know, like me years ago, and they think a wine is flawed when it's not.

So see what happens.

In the future, one thing to keep in mind is that wines selling for under $15 are usually not meant for aging more than a year or so.  Not all of them, but the majority.  Doesn't mean they're bad wines at all - far from it.  But if you're looking at a 2005 Sauv B and a 2009, pick the 2009. 

Now we're in 2010 so if you see a 2005 wine, particularly a white, you should ask about it.  Three or four or five years may be too much.  Not always, but often enough.

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Reply by Degrandcru, Jul 17, 2010.

Yes Elley, I think Greg is right. Just bring it back and see what happens. The worst thing that could happen is that they don't take it back.

I only had to bring back wine once. My wife bought a 24 pack of cava picolos. It was Non Vintage, but I the little import sticker (mexican law) told me that it was imported 5 years ago. So I brought it back. The store owner told me that this is why it was discounted and nobody had complaint about it. But he took it back without hesitation.

I never had a relation to this store before, but now whenever I go in and the owner is there we talk and he recommends some wines to me. And he now always says "if you don't like it, just bring it back", which I never had to. So returning the cavas turned out to be a very good thing.

Why wouldn't you drive with an open bottle? State law? Just put it in the trunk.

Let us know how it turned out.

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Reply by elleystar, Jul 18, 2010.

GregT-definitely, if I had not been so tired, overheated, and hurried, and had bothered to read the vintage, I'd never have picked it up. I'm no expert but do know a cheap white shouldn't be kept around any longer than possible.

My husband is battling bad allergies plus a summer cold right now, and couldn't taste a thing wrong with it. (He can't taste anything at all, really.) He said he would drink it. I think the next time I stop in there, I will just mention it to the retailer. So at least if they want to make the decision to pull the other bottles, they can.

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Reply by dmcker, Jul 18, 2010.

Elley, don't be so bashful. You really shouldn't have to pay for a bottle gone bad, and the retailer should know when he is selling bad bottles. First time's the hardest. Will get easier after that when you have to send a bottle back at table, or to a retailer....

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Reply by Mr Lee, Jul 18, 2010.

Hi ellystar! In my state once an alcohol product has left the store it can not be returned for any reason. All Sales Are Final! But, that does not mean I won't make things right. I sold a good (?) bottle of wine, a 03 Kunde chardonnay, to a very good customer. I was a little worried about that sale because a 7 year old bottle of chard is past it's prime but, he insisted he wanted it. Next time he came in he said it was very bad. Instead of saying I warned you, I made it right by him. GregT is right. Go back and talk to your merchant, bring the rest of the bottle with you, if they want to keep you as a customer (even if you are on a small budget) they should make it right. In our business they say inventory is everything, but, if you have no customers, you have no business. Customer service and satisfaction is what makes or breaks a business. Good luck. Cheers

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Reply by dmcker, Jul 18, 2010.

Mr. Lee and Elley, there's no reason a chardonnay only a half dozen years old should necessarily be over the hill. Depending, of course, on who makes it, and how it's been handled and stored. I have very little experience with Kunde, and wouldn't group them in my 'Best of' class for Sonoma, but I certainly know people who's opinions I respect who've said they enjoy Kunde chards. I'm currently drinking Chalone chards from the late '90s that are definitely quite fine, even if not up to their peaks of those from previous decades--but that's because the winemaker changed. And of course good chardonnays from Burgundy and Champagne are well in their prime from even 20 years ago and more.

If the Kunde '03 had good provenance, it should've been fine. Check out these tasting notes for recently consumed '04 bottles. I doubt the points given would've been any better if the bottles had been consumed a few years earlier.

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Reply by Mr Lee, Jul 18, 2010.

dmcker:Thanks for the input. I agree with you on good whites being good for 20 years. If in 2003 I went to Sonoma and purchased a case of wine and put in my cellar than yes I would agree with longevity. But, unfourtunately in the commercial world you never know the history of storage, temperature, transportation method etc. I have been to many excellant wine shops that are very carefull with these considerations. Others not so carefull. Everything gets trucked into N.M. to the big cities and warehoused. When delivered to us small towns in the Badlands of N.M. you never know what you will get. So in the wine store I manage I always try to get new whites, say from 08 to 09. Less chance of getting poorly stored wines. Thanks again. I always enjoy the info from fellew Snoothers. Cheers!

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Reply by Girl Drink Drunk, Jul 18, 2010.

Also, 03, in my opinion, was a C- vintage at best for the area.

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Reply by Francotimeo, Jul 18, 2010.

Hi ellystar! I'm not sure where you are located but here in Texas the open container laws say a bottle of wine with a cork in it is NOT an open container! Pretty cool, huh?!! So check your local laws but you may not have to worry a bit about carrying an "open" container.

 

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