Log In / Join Now

Ask Dr. Vinny

Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...

Dear Dr. Vinny,

Is it ever appropriate to send a wine back after initially telling the waiter that the wine was fine? The other night, I was out to dinner with some friends and we ordered an expensive bottle of wine. Although it smelled and tasted fine on first blush, after sitting open for a couple of minutes it began to emit a barnyard smell that was pretty awful. Seeing as I already had told the waiter that the wine was fine, could I still have sent it back?

—Nathan A., Atlanta

Dear Nathan,

Good question. I believe that the finest restaurant service will take a flawed bottle back, even if you accepted it at first. This has happened to me, as I can sometimes miss some flaws on the first sip (TCA, for example) only to have it become more prominent with some aeration over time. Flag down your server or the wine guru there and very politely tell them that you think you may have missed something, and ask them for their opinion. I doubt that a restaurant that prides itself on good service will insist you suffer through a bottle you believe is flawed. However, if the bottle is nearly empty by the time you complain, don't be surprised if you are charged for the wine.

—Dr. Vinny

Wine Basics

We break down the basics—how to taste, serve, store and more. Plus:
» Maps of major wine regions
» Grape variety characteristics

How-to Videos

Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more

Wine Spectator School: All courses are FREE for WineSpectator.com Members

Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.

Browse our course catalog
Check out the professional wine sales and service courses
Learn Wine Forum: Got questions? Get answers

WineRatings+ app: Download now for 340,000+ ratings.