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Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
When a restaurant brings you a bottle of wine, and the vintage is not what was listed on the wine list, what should you do?
—Julie W., Virginia Beach, Va.
During traditional wine service, a bottle is presented to you to inspect before it is opened. In the very best wine service, a discrepancy in vintage should be pointed out to you at this moment. But I’ve certainly been in the scenario you’ve described, when you order one vintage and are presented with another.
If you want to speak up, you absolutely should when the wine is presented—and before the wine is opened. It could be as simple as the server grabbing the wrong wine, or they’ve moved on to the new vintage but the wine list wasn’t updated and the server wasn’t informed. Sometimes, this can work in your favor, depending on the relative vintage quality.
If the wine you’re presented just isn’t what you want, you don’t have to make a big stink about it. You could say something along the lines of, “I see this is the 2010, but I had ordered the 2009. If the 2009 isn’t available, may I see the wine list to make another selection?”
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