When do you return wines to a retailer?

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J D o v e
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When do you return wines to a retailer?

#1 Post by J D o v e » October 24th, 2020, 6:19 pm

Feeling like creating a little Burgundy at home, I made Oeufs en Muerette tonight. The first bottle I opened to make the sauce was 2015 Domaine Robert Perroud Brouilly ‘Pollen’. It was flawed (sulfurous mercaptan odor). I found a bottle of Morgon and all was well and everything came out fine.

I almost never take back flawed bottles. In this case, I have a couple more of these and it made me wonder — when do you return bottles to retailers who know you? The ones you do a fair bit of business with? If I sampled something I bought in the past year and it was corked, I generally return it — though that probably doesn’t happen more than once a year. After owning it for a year or so, I figure I own the issue. I’m not concerned about these particular bottles — it’s more of a general curiosity as to how board members treat these things...
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Kris Patten
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Re: When do you return wines to a retailer?

#2 Post by Kris Patten » October 24th, 2020, 6:21 pm

Corked = return it.
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J D o v e
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Re: When do you return wines to a retailer?

#3 Post by J D o v e » October 24th, 2020, 6:26 pm

Right but when? I opened a bottle of corked 2003 Leoville Barton that I bought from Dan Isenhart (Wine Club SF — what happened to that place, btw?) 16 years ago — does that count? Just curious how people think about the timing aspect of it.
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D@vid Bu3ker
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Re: When do you return wines to a retailer?

#4 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » October 24th, 2020, 6:29 pm

Unless it’s something recent and pricey I just rarely bother. Not worth the hassle, and the pain is unlikely to get back to where it belongs. If I could dump the corked wine on the head of a cork supplier then maybe I would do it.
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Re: When do you return wines to a retailer?

#5 Post by Peter Valiquette » October 24th, 2020, 6:30 pm

I recently read a CT note on 2016 Pergole Torte which hits on this topic...can the retailer resell this or go they get screwed?

“October 20, 2020 - blind tasted with Sergio Zenato amarone 2013 & Carpineto CC Riserva 2015.

Didn't get the hype with this wine. Maybe it is in fact to young at this point but for $189 CAD it should be better then the $29 CAD Chianti.....which it wasn't. Ended up returning my case of 2016 pergola torte.”

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Re: When do you return wines to a retailer?

#6 Post by Tom G l a s g o w » October 24th, 2020, 6:34 pm

Peter Valiquette wrote:
October 24th, 2020, 6:30 pm
I recently read a CT note on 2016 Pergole Torte which hits on this topic...can the retailer resell this or go they get screwed?

“October 20, 2020 - blind tasted with Sergio Zenato amarone 2013 & Carpineto CC Riserva 2015.

Didn't get the hype with this wine. Maybe it is in fact to young at this point but for $189 CAD it should be better then the $29 CAD Chianti.....which it wasn't. Ended up returning my case of 2016 pergola torte.”
Likely they can resell it.
PLCB has a 30 Day return period, it used to be unlimited. I seldom return anything.

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Re: When do you return wines to a retailer?

#7 Post by DanielP » October 24th, 2020, 6:39 pm

Generally, I'll return new releases purchased within the past year if they're corked or clearly defective (oxidized, low fill/leakage).
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Re: When do you return wines to a retailer?

#8 Post by Mark Golodetz » October 24th, 2020, 7:38 pm

This is one of the reasons I don’t buy from Sotheby’s retail. I can’t say I love the auction house either, but a few years ago, I had a corked bottle of Bordeaux, which they agreed to replace. After three calls, and more promises which they never did anything about, I gave up, and avoid them.

To be honest, I don’t usually ask for replacements for corked wines but I had bought this a couple of weeks before specifically for a dinner.
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Re: When do you return wines to a retailer?

#9 Post by alan weinberg » October 24th, 2020, 8:30 pm

if I don’t like something there are a few stores that let me return it. 89 Beaucastel was one return, stinky beyond drinkability. I know other lots were great.

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Re: When do you return wines to a retailer?

#10 Post by R Roberts » October 24th, 2020, 8:42 pm

D@vid Bu3ker wrote:
October 24th, 2020, 6:29 pm
Unless it’s something recent and pricey I just rarely bother. Not worth the hassle, and the pain is unlikely to get back to where it belongs. If I could dump the corked wine on the head of a cork supplier then maybe I would do it.
The winery is the party that chooses the closure. The responsibility should lie with them.
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Re: When do you return wines to a retailer?

#11 Post by Neal.Mollen » October 24th, 2020, 9:01 pm

Can't remember the last time I did or even thought about it.
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Re: When do you return wines to a retailer?

#12 Post by Curtis Chen » October 24th, 2020, 10:42 pm

I’ll ask for a refund when I immediately open a purchased bottle, but find it’s corked when it was clearly stated to be in excellent condition or directly from a cellar.

To address OP’s “fair bit of business” thought, I actually had this happen with Envoyer recently. Been buying from him for years and never had any issues. Popped a flawed Burg from a cellar sale and asked him for a refund (no replacement option). He only credited back his profit margin instead of the original order, which was a bummer, so I later asked him to cancel my subsequent orders. He said he’d charge me a 20% restocking fee. Sometimes, retailer no care about fair bit of business, so you shouldn’t either. At least it wasn’t DRC RC 😢
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Re: When do you return wines to a retailer?

#13 Post by Andrew K. » October 25th, 2020, 1:00 am

I've had two such bottles recently and both retailers took them back easily and said they'd get the distributor to replace them or credit them. If you are buying secondary market stuff, I wouldn't expect much. If you can get credited half your price, you're doing pretty well.
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Re: When do you return wines to a retailer?

#14 Post by Sarah Kirschbaum » October 25th, 2020, 5:58 am

I understand all the arguments people make for why one should return a corked or otherwise flawed bottle.

I never do it. Like Neal, I don't even consider it, really.
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Re: When do you return wines to a retailer?

#15 Post by J D o v e » October 25th, 2020, 6:43 am

Sarah Kirschbaum wrote:
October 25th, 2020, 5:58 am
I understand all the arguments people make for why one should return a corked or otherwise flawed bottle.

I never do it. Like Neal, I don't even consider it, really.
I return a bottle, perhaps once a year, when I just purchased it recently and it’s corked or clearly flawed/damaged. For example, I’m drinking through a lot of 2016 Barolos and Barbarescos right now. Were one of them to be corked, I would return it, assuming I purchased it locally.

The retailer gets the credit through the distributor. It’s a cost of their doing business. And, it’s not like you’re making some inconvenienced trip to your local wine shop...
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Re: When do you return wines to a retailer?

#16 Post by Sarah Kirschbaum » October 25th, 2020, 6:51 am

J Dove wrote:
October 25th, 2020, 6:43 am
Sarah Kirschbaum wrote:
October 25th, 2020, 5:58 am
I understand all the arguments people make for why one should return a corked or otherwise flawed bottle.

I never do it. Like Neal, I don't even consider it, really.
I return a bottle, perhaps once a year, when I just purchased it recently and it’s corked or clearly flawed/damaged. For example, I’m drinking through a lot of 2016 Barolos and Barbarescos right now. Were one of them to be corked, I would return it, assuming I purchased it locally.

The retailer gets the credit through the distributor. It’s a cost of their doing business. And, it’s not like you’re making some inconvenienced trip to your local wine shop...
I live in PA, so I haven't bought a bottle of wine in a local wine shop since I moved here! ;-)

I don't disagree with that approach. I just don't choose to follow it in my own life.

Edited to add that I did once or twice return most of a case when the entire case was quite clearly heat damaged, and not by me.
Last edited by Sarah Kirschbaum on October 25th, 2020, 6:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: When do you return wines to a retailer?

#17 Post by Michael Martin » October 25th, 2020, 6:53 am

I buy most of my wine direct and have had zero issues asking for a refund for corked wines. I probably have had 4-5 instances in the last few years. The quality producers I deal with refund my money or offer replacement.
The wines I buy retail are usually <$25 and on the rare occurrence of a corked bottle, I just dispose of it and move on.

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Re: When do you return wines to a retailer?

#18 Post by Ian Alper » October 25th, 2020, 9:00 am

Last year I had a corked wine purchased winery direct a few years back. I like supporting the winery and did not want to hassle them. The next week it was still bugging me so I reached out to the winery and asked them if they could make a donation to a local fire relief effort rather than replace the bottle. They took me up on the offer and it seemed like a win-win to me

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Re: When do you return wines to a retailer?

#19 Post by John Glas » October 25th, 2020, 9:44 am

Last year I had a corked wine purchased winery direct a few years back. I like supporting the winery and did not want to hassle them.
Why is this a hassle for them? They run a business and part of that in the wine world or any business is to take returns. It is important to have some data on the amount of flawed bottles especially if it is coming from poor transportation issues which has been known to happen. Shipping wine without refrigeration being one of them.

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Re: When do you return wines to a retailer?

#20 Post by Greg K » October 25th, 2020, 10:50 am

I will, on rare occasions, return expensive bottles shortly after they were purchased if they are clearly off. I bought 2 bottles of 2014 Batard from a producer and one was fully premoxed; I returned it, the store gave me credit. The other was probably heading that way, but was just not great rather than off. That’s on me.
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Re: When do you return wines to a retailer?

#21 Post by Markus S » October 25th, 2020, 12:43 pm

If you buy a half gallon of milk and it's spoiled, do you take it back?
If you buy a car, and the axles break as you drive it home, do you get it fixed at the dealer's expense?
When should wine be any different?
If it is corked, filled with extreme Brettanomyces, are you supposed to drink it? Heck no.
In a perfect world, you would get credit for your bottle, the retailer would get credit from the wholesaler, and the wholesaler credit from the importer or winery. If problem bottles are not reported up the chain, how can they ever be noticed or fixed? Like love and forgiveness, it has to start somewhere.
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Re: When do you return wines to a retailer?

#22 Post by Cris Whetstone » October 25th, 2020, 1:48 pm

I only return bottles that are recent purchases, i.e. easily replaceable, that are corked. I would also if it were broken in some way like the cork didn't fit or wasn't present. Cracked bottle. Or other similar.

I would never return one because I didn't like the wine or it had something I didn't care for like brett or mercaptins. That's on the winemakers. That's a lesson for the consumer about who they will buy. It's not returnable anymore than your carrots not being as sweet as you want them to be from your local grocer.
Last edited by Cris Whetstone on October 26th, 2020, 9:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: When do you return wines to a retailer?

#23 Post by doug johnson » October 25th, 2020, 6:36 pm

I return bad bottles, and when I experience consumer unfriendly policies with regards to faulty bottles at a retailer I stop shopping there.

The time question is an interesting one. I tend to think bottles meant to be cellared should have a longer warranty period.

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Re: When do you return wines to a retailer?

#24 Post by JBrochu » October 26th, 2020, 5:57 pm

I've never returned a corked bottle before but I mentioned to a new to me local place today that a wine I recently purchased as part of a mixed sample case was corked and the owner offered to credit me the cost. I thought that was great, and they will get more of my business going forward.
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Re: When do you return wines to a retailer?

#25 Post by jprusack » October 26th, 2020, 6:06 pm

not the same discussion but whats the general consensus on purchasing a bottle (online from a reputed wine shop) not rare but not available to replace either...2015 $85 1er burgundy that was sold with a wine stained label and you were not told of it beforehand?
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Re: When do you return wines to a retailer?

#26 Post by Rodrigo B » October 26th, 2020, 6:11 pm

jprusack wrote:
October 26th, 2020, 6:06 pm
not the same discussion but whats the general consensus on purchasing a bottle (online from a reputed wine shop) not rare but not available to replace either...2015 $85 1er burgundy that was sold with a wine stained label and you were not told of it beforehand?
Personally, if it’s just a cosmetic damage to the label, then I don’t do anything about it. A slightly torn or stained label is not going to affect the taste or my enjoyment of a wine. Now if you’re talking about highly collectible wines where where even a slightly torn or stained label affects resale price, then it’s a different story. However if there’s signs of seepage or anything like that on the bottle then I usually contact the retailer to return it.
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Re: When do you return wines to a retailer?

#27 Post by Chris Seiber » October 26th, 2020, 6:46 pm

It’s fashionable to bag on mailing lists, but this is one significant advantage to them. If I email someone like Rhys or Carlisle and tell them a bottle was corked, even an older bottle, they’ll credit me or replace it, cheerfully and without a bunch of hoops to jump through.

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