Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wine stewardship.

If each of us had a crystal ball life would be so simple.  And predictable.  Without a crystal ball, one thing that isn't predictable is at what age is the best age to drink a favourite wine one may have been saving for a special occasion.  A crystal ball would allow one to drink all wine at it's peak, not too late and not too soon either. 
Today, I was reminded of my crystal ball/wine theory when a co-worker at TWWIAGE read me an email that she had just received.  The gist of the email was this: a man and his wife had recently opened a bottle of TWWIAGE wine for their anniversary.  They had owned the wine for at least ten years.  The wine was "spoiled" and they were very disappointed.  In the interests of good consumer relations, they expected TWWIAGE to make the unhappy situation good by sending them a replacement, gratis, as they were sure that the winery would want them to enjoy TWWIAGE wine at it's most palatable.  And by the way, they had poured the wine down the drain and thrown the bottle away.
On hearing this my first reaction was, well, disbelief.  It took me a little while to process the absurdity of the situation.  What a cheeky request.  What if this was a scam?  What if this gentleman sent a similar email to 300 Napa Valley wineries and just 10% of those wineries took the bait and sent him a free bottle of wine for fear of getting a bad 'Yelp' review, or something.  The whole thing smacked of extortion.
If, on the other hand, the email was legitimate it raised the question: is the wine-drinking public justified in having the expectation that any bottle of wine is guaranteed by a winery indefinitely?  To what extent is the consumer responsible for the spoilage of a long cellared bottle of wine?  I've racked my brain, but I can't think of any other perishable food item that is guaranteed for life.
A reply email was sent from TWWIAGE apologising for the disappointment caused; inquiring as to what vintage the wine had been, where had it been purchased, but regretfully declining, in the nicest possible way, without the option of the winery being able to do a chemical analysis on the dregs, the expectation that the wine was going to be replaced.  Of course, Mr. Cheeky emailed back to say he was astounded that a winery with such a high reputation wouldn't replace his bottle of wine - a bottle that he couldn't prove existed in the first place.  Brazen to the last.
I can, however, guarantee that the wine with the grotty cork, in the above photograph, is past it's best.  And I decided that without the benefit of a crystal ball.  Easy peasy.

8 comments:

Thomas said...

Send Cheeky the wine in the picture...

When I had my tasting room, we sold wine glasses with our logo on them--pretty fine glasses they were.

A couple came in, tasted, bought some wine and then the woman wanted to buy six glasses. The man said that they didn't need six; four would do. They were traveling and asked that I ship the wine and the glasses to their home at a later date. I told them the I was not set up to ship delicate glasses, but they assured me not to worry.

A little while after the shipment I got a call from them to say that one glass had broken in transport. I reminded them about my warning, but decided I would try to send a replacement anyway.

A little while after that, a call came that the replacement broke in transport.

I did a quick calculation and figured that if I sent one more glass, and none had broken at all, they would have the six the woman wanted for the price of four.

This time, I decided there was nothing more I could do for them, hoping that i left them with the uneven five...

Vinogirl said...

Tomasso: TWWIAGE used to have logo glasses, before switching to Riedel, and it was policy NOT to ship them for the same reason you cite in your comment. On occasion a new, or ignorant employee, or one trying to give excellent customer service, would take it upon themselves to break the rules and ship glassware anyway. 100% of the time, the glasses broke in transit (as do some glasses even in new orders from Riedel). Ultimately, good customer service turned into bad customer service as the customer always ended up as Mr. or Mrs. Disgruntled. I mostly think that bad behaviour shouldn't be rewarded.

Thud said...

Twasnt me...honest Guv!

Thomas said...

So that's the source of the name "Thud".

Dennis Tsiorbas said...

Vinogirl: This is such a pregnant post; so many variables and so many hazards keeping wine. The buyer be ware should put us buyers to shame. I can't tell you the number of bottles of what I have deemed bad wine I've dumped and I have not once complained to the a store or anyone else; luckily they were all in the inexpensive category!
I've been eyeing a Bordeaux or two that are quite expensive ($$$), and they've been sitting high up on a shelf in the wine store for more than a year, which is causing me to reconsider purchasing them.
Now where did you get that nasty wine bottle for demonstration purposes?

Vinogirl said...

Thud: Should you be feeling guilty?

Tomasso: Not quite.

NHW: Individual/consumer responsibility is always a pertinent subject. I have only ever returned one bottle of wine because it was corked, and because I happened to be going to the winery anyway...I still feel bad about doing it, as it was the cork that was at fault not the winery.
Caveat emptor: do not buy those upright wines!
The nasty cork in the photograph is a 1959 Pouilly-Fuissé.

Do Bianchi said...

there's so much about wine that makes every bottle a gamble, no? but that's part of the fun...

as wine appreciate grows in the U.S., issues like this are more and more common...

Wine Folly did a fun post this week on wine etiquette gone terribly wrong...

Vinogirl said...

2B: I agree. I'd say 10% of wine that I buy is just for fun, I have no expectations of a bottle being good, or bad.
Shall look up the Wine Folly thing.