What do you do with a bad bottle of wine?
If you are at a restaurant, you send the wine back, if you had bought it at a wine store you’d take it back but what about wine bought on a wine tour?
We’d visited a delightful winery a few weeks ago and bought a bottle of rosé that we sampled there . We’d had a great chat with the owner, exchanged cards and then sat down a few nights ago to enjoy it. It was undrinkable. My husband said the cork had spun in the bottle instead of coming straight out. Air must have marginally leaked in.
My first reaction was to swallow the expense rather than the wine and just not go back to that winery again. It was a long drive away and I wasn’t planning a return trip any time soon. So I put the situation to a number of wineries in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward County Ontario asking how it should be handled.
Every one said they wanted to be told and would either replace the bottle on a following trip or reimburse the costs. Three wineries actually assumed it must have been one of theirs apologized profusely and wanted to redress the situation at once.
At Gaspereau Vineyards one of my favourite Nova Scotia wineries, ,Manager Katie Barbour said “If any of our customers had a problem with our wine(whether it be a cork, taste or any type of ‘quality’ issue) we always do our best to replace the product(at our cost) and make sure that our wine is properly represented. Many problems can occur for various reasons. Maybe the rose in question is part a ‘bad batch’…being notified as the owner/ operator could give us a chance to react and learn what is happening to it. I think it’s very unfortunate when a customer doesn’t follow up with the winery.”
“We had a complaint from an Ontario couple, who purchased a mixed case of our wine and noticed that some of the bottles did not taste the same as they did at our tasting bar. We asked them to bring a bottle back with them when they returned this summer so our winemaker could ‘inspect’ it and we happily replaced all of the wine in question without hesitation. Had they not been planning a return trip, they would have been reimbursed for the amount..”
Richard Johnston, owner of By Chadsey’s Cairns a delightful boutique winery in Prince Edward County said, “We don’t require any proof. The few times this has happened, people have offered to hold the bottle; however, there is nothing to be gained from this, either in terms of customer relations or in terms of effective verification. It can be a week or maybe more before we would have a chance to check the information and by then all sorts of other contaminations, re-fermentation etc. can occur.”
“For us the relationship with the customer is paramount. It starts with them falling in love with our old farm during their visit and then we keep email contact and provide other opportunities to keep in touch through wine maker’s dinners etc during the winter. We talk about our warts and all with them and they tend to feel free to raise concerns with a wine, without fear of being taken on or talked down to.”
Neither of these wineries were responsible for my bad bottle of rosé. The winery that I bought the wine from wrote back remembering our visit and said.
“You could return the bottle for a replacement or refund, as you would at any store. We don’t even need the bottle, really). If it’s inconvenient to drop by, just give me an address and I’ll send off a refund cheque right away.”
Expect the best from a wine tour and if something goes wrong, let them know, they’ll thank you for it.
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