Sending Wine Back

By: Genuine Joy Cocktail Contributor Briana Berg

While I am far from a shy person, I often find myself having a hard time standing up and voicing my own opinion (I’m reading Lean In and working on it). Anything from telling a retail associate that I don’t want to buy that dress, to telling a friend that I disagree with them, is hard for me. Recently I decided that it was finally time to share my voice. I’ve only exercised this practice a few times lately, but I am particularly proud of one time that I did.

At a nice dinner with my parents and boyfriend we ordered a bottle of wine for the table. We loved it so much that we ordered another. To our dismay, the wine was sold out and the waitress recommended another in the same price range. While I was tasting the wine, I immediately knew it wasn’t right for us. It was sweet and warm – not a good complement to our Italian dinner on a muggy night in August. It wasn’t what we were looking for and wasn’t closely similar to the wine we had previously.

Here comes the shocker: I sent it back. I never do that. I’ve sent back wine that was visibly bad, but never because I didn’t like it! One time I even kept a steak that wasn’t cooked to my liking, solely because I was too afraid to say something. Thank you Sheryl Sandberg for creating a monster.

Below are a few tips on how to send back a wine and ensure you’re getting one you love – coming from a diner who values my experience as much as the efforts of the person serving me.

1.     Waiters and sommeliers are there to make your dining experience pleasurable. If you aren’t satisfied, they aren’t either. They will understand – no questions asked.

2.     Be polite. If it isn’t to your liking, it may be to someone else’s. You don’t want to offend anyone. Explain why you don’t love the wine or why you think it’s bad. The sommelier should be able to guide you through the process of picking another wine.

3.     Sip and smell! Just because it doesn’t smell good doesn’t mean it won’t taste good, and vice versa. Make sure you know proper protocol for tasting a wine before you tell the expert it’s bad. If you just generally don’t like it, that’s another story. Just remember #2 when sending it back.

4.     A lot of times I hear people say “I’ll drink anything.” Then they get a wine they don’t like and they aren’t happy. Be honest with your sommelier about what you like in a wine or what you are looking for. The more open, honest, and exact you can be, the easier it will be for the sommelier to help you. A clue into what you may have dinner will help too.

5.     Ask your sommelier what they are most excited about on the wine list and be open to trying something new. They generally have a great gauge on the wine world and may suggest something you never would have picked (in your price range, of course). And voila, you have your new favorite wine!

I’m curious, have you ever sent back a wine? If so, how did it go? Let me know in the comments section below.