From time to time everyone gets a bad bottle of wine. Most cases it’s due to faulty (natural) corks or high temperatures in shipping or storage. But there are also winemaking flaws that can make a wine undrinkable such as bacteria, wild yeast or reduction.
Recently I came across a bottle that appeared to be suffering from oxidation, excess volatile acidity (“VA”) and brettanomyces (“brett”). Most times when I get a bottle like this I just set it aside to check the next day to confirm the verdict and then pour it out if it’s truly bad. But this wine was so messed up I thought the wine store and distributor should know so I returned it.
Like any good wine store, they immediately offered to replace it with another bottle or give me credit for something else but they also seemed to be mystified why I would bring the wine back. After smelling what I found as a clearly flawed wine the manager just shook his head and said he couldn’t tell the wine was bad as all. Since my practice is never to represent myself as anything other than just a normal consumer I stood firm and accepted the offered credit. Since this seemed more like a disaster at the winery, I selected another wine.
I think a lot of consumers have had similar experiences in wine stores but don’t trust their palate enough to return wine in stores or in restaurants. And I think that’s a shame as the store will get a credit back from their wholesaler and this cost will get passed upstream. Hopefully someone along the way gets the message I was trying to send by returning such a flawed wine.
You don’t have to be a wine geek to spot a bad wine. You’ll know it when you smell and taste it. My advice is to return it.