Despite major improvements in the wine industry over the past several decades, bad wine still exists. Problems during production can be diminished, but not always eliminated. The cork industry has made significant strides in reducing cork taint in recent years, but some wines are still corked. Thermal blankets and temperature controlled shipping containers have reduced heat and cold damage, but sometimes units fail, temperatures fluctuate more than anticipated, and wines become damaged. Wine, like any agricultural product will sometimes be bad, spoiled, or flawed.

How to Return a Bad Bottle of Wine:

If you believe that a wine is flawed after you open it, don’t drink it or toss it down the drain. First, wait about fifteen minutes. Make sure that your glass is not dirty or covered in dishwashing detergent or soap. Then try the wine again. If the flaw remains, then the wine may be damaged or bad. It happens.

If the problem persists after a second taste, put the cork or cap back on the wine and stick the bottle in the refrigerator to preserve the wine as much as possible. Then bring the bottle back to the store where it was purchased and tell them about the noticeable flaw or defect in the wine.

Most stores will replace the bad bottle with a good bottle unless you are a royal jerk about it. Ask one of the employees to taste the wine. Typically they will know the wine fairly well and will quickly be able to notice a flaw or defect in the wine. If they refuse a refund without a good excuse, then you should probably find a new wine shop to frequent.

Wine distributors offer stores refunds on all bad bottles. However, some distributors do make stores remind them over and over before giving them a refund. So they may be mildly irritated about having to take a return depending upon the relationship they have with that particular distributor. But that is not the concern of the end consumer.

Wine producers offer discounts up front to distributors and wine importers. Generally, importers and distributors get two percent of their wine for free. With that two percent they can open bottles and sample the wine to potential consumers and customers to try and sell it, and cover the cost of returned bottles. However, agreements vary widely from one wine producer to the next.

About Returning Controlled Substances

Alcohol is a controlled substance, and controlled substances are regulated differently than other retail products. Technically, alcohol cannot be returned to a store for cash or credit. It must be returned only for a replacement due to a defect in the original.

However, each state enforces their liquor laws differently. Many stores are ignorant of the law and offer cash or store credit for a return. But do not be surprised if a store refuses store credit and only offers a replacement bottle of the same wine. Legally, that is what they are supposed to do.

Returning a wine that you simply do not like, will only get you more of the same. If you don’t like a wine, invite over friends. Chances are pretty good, someone will like it.