Eli5: Fancy restaurant question

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When people are at a fancy restaurant and order a bottle of wine the waiter brings it out and pours out a sip to taste. What happens if the customer dosen’t like it? Can you actually send back the whole bottle? Does the customer pay for it? What does the restaurant do with the rest of the bottled?

Thanks 🥰

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15 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

Not really. The sip is mainly to confirm the bottle isn’t bad or contaminated. If you simply don’t like it, you’re outta luck.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Yes, you send back the bottle. The Sommelier would likely taste it themselves to confirm your suspicion. If they agreed, no harm done. It’s priced in. If they didn’t and thought it was fine, they probably get you a second bottle but if you reject that one too probably suggest a mixed drink or something instead.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The taste and smell check is to determine if the wine is **corked**.

The term ‘corked wine’ refers to a wine contaminated with cork taint, which can happen if the wine is bottled with a TCA-infected cork. TCA is a chemical compound that forms when there’s contact between fungi naturally found in cork and certain cleaning products. Corked wines smell and taste of damp, soggy, wet or rotten cardboard. Cork taint dulls the fruit in a wine, renders it lackluster and cuts the finish.

The restaurant will raise issues of corked wines with their supplier. Many wine producers have shifted from natural corks to plastic corks or metal screwcaps to ensure that wines are not corked. Those that continue to use corks have shifted from chlorine-based cleaners, which trigger corking.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The smell/taste of the wine is not to make sure it’s to your taste preferences. It’s intended to discern whether the wine has gone bad (e.g., if stored improperly).

If that’s the situation, they’ll bring another bottle. The restaurant would eat that cost (Edit: See some comments below, I’m told they don’t eat the cost, they have insurance and ultimately the money would get recouped). They wouldn’t be serving the first bottle anyway, if it’s gone bad. It’d be like cooking and serving a piece of meat that spoiled.

Anonymous 0 Comments

They don’t give a flick if you like it or not.

We’ve given up on corks for most wines in Australia because screwcaps don’t have this problem. But the server is politely letting you check the wine before serving it out and leaving so you can check it hasn’t gone bad. If it has, they just bring another one.

Anonymous 0 Comments

It’s not about if you like it or not, that is done so you can make sure the wine hasn’t gone bad, if indeed it’s bad you should get a new bottle or choose a different wine. If you simply don’t like it you still have to pay for it wether you drink it or not

Anonymous 0 Comments

Nearly everyone is saying • to discern whether the wine has gone bad • to determine if the wine is corked • etc.

But there are still rare exceptions. I attended a wedding dinner at a snooty restaurant with a wine list the size of an old Manhattan phone book, and one V.I.P. ordered a $300 bottle, specific vineyard, specific year, etc …

**From the taste**, he could determine it was not what was ordered, apparently an adjacent year — so he refused it.

Both the sommelier and the house manager came by the table and apologized **profusely** for the error.

(And I’m guessing the back-of-house staff got to enjoy a $295 bottle of wine for themselves!)

Anonymous 0 Comments

I’ve rejected a bottle once. It was at an important to me corporate dinner meeting, and it was a very expensive bottle. The cork had wine stains up to the top of the cork. For some reason I was chosen to taste. Didn’t like. Made a comment. Boss gave me a strong side eye.

Had them pour another sip to a French colleague who stated “Zis is not of the same quality” and we got a new bottle brought out.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The sample is to check if the wine has gone bad.

Because wines can be stored for a long time, there is a chance for them to go bad due to imperfect seals, imperfect storing conditions, a bad batch, etc.

If it has turned into vinegar or had some other drop in quality, the customer can return it.

Anonymous 0 Comments

While this is true for ordering a bottle, I should note if you’re ordering by the glass and especially at less snooty restaurants you definitely can ask for a taste before your make up your mind. They often will have an open bottle and there’s no harm in pouring a small sample.

But if you’re ordering a whole expensive bottle it’s a whole different ball game.