Mailbag Monday: Returning Wine in a Restaurant?

Dear Alleigh:

My boyfriend and I went to a really nice restaurant for my birthday a few weeks ago.  He ordered the bottle of wine, but didn’t like it and sent it back.  I was really embarrassed because there was nothing WRONG with the wine.  What do you think of sending wine back in a restaurant?

I think you will get different answers on how to handle this situation depending on the wine drinker you ask.

My opinion is that as long as I’m the person who chose the wine, I don’t return a wine unless it’s flawed.  It’s not the restaurant’s fault if I made a bad decision, regardless of whether it’s the food or the wine that I don’t like.

Now, if I asked the sommelier or waiter for a wine recommendation and don’t like the wine s/he chose, then I will be honest and say I don’t like the wine.  My expectation at that point is to be able to pick a different wine because I don’t see the choice as my mistake.

If I order a wine that is flawed, then I will certainly let the restaurant know and ask for another bottle.  Flawed wine happens occasionally, and most restaurants (and wine stores, for that matter) recognize that and try to be accommodating by finding another bottle.  In fact, every time I’ve been in a restaurant where there was problem with the wine, the sommelier or manager was more than happy to bring another bottle.  Depending on the type of flaw, sometimes I received a new bottle of the same wine and sometimes I received an entirely different wine.

All that said, I don’t think your boyfriend did anything wrong; it’s just not my style.  I hope that despite the wine incident you had a lovely birthday celebration.


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