Is it OK to change my mind about a wine after I've approved a sommelier to serve it?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

One of my pet peeves is restaurants with out-of-date wine lists. If I order a wine and the server brings a different vintage of the same wine, but I don’t notice until after the wine has been served, what’s the proper etiquette?

—Erik, Los Angeles

Dear Erik,

When you order wine at a restaurant, part of the process is that the server or sommelier presents the bottle to you while saying the name of the wine. It’s at that point that you should either approve the wine or point out that it’s not what you ordered. Then the server pours you a taste of wine and, again, you either approve or reject it.

But if you’re having a good time, maybe you’re not paying full attention and only later realize you’ve been served the wrong wine. Unfortunately, at that point, you already approved the wine. But restaurants are in the business of serving their customers and making sure they leave happy, so I think the first step is to call over the person who served you the wine, explain that you were distracted when you approved the bottle, and explain to them whatever you think is amiss.

From there, what happens next will depend on the restaurant. From their perspective, you’ve already tasted and approved the wine, and you haven’t mentioned that it’s flawed. Are you just pointing out a typo? Are you now saying you want to send the wine back and be refunded for it? Are you asking if the bottle you originally asked for is available? If you’re going to bring it up, you should be as clear as possible as to what your expectations are. (And considering you already approved the wine to be served to your guests, those expectations should be pretty low.)

—Dr. Vinny

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