Corked Wine Quandary

OK, over the last 10 years this has happened to me with about 5 wineries where I’m on the list: One of the wines I bought turns out to be corked and so of course I send a moderately carefully worded email saying that wine x is corked.
Generally I get a replacement and am happy even if it is from a more recent vintage. Sometimes, and I find this less appealing, I get a refund, but only for the price of the wine so I’m still out the tax and shipping paid. And then the now 5 wineries where no answer is returned.
In the latter case my reaction is generally to drop the list and I’ll do that in this case as well, but it is a little painful as I felt this was a winery worth supporting. I have also been a reasonably good customer buying 5-6 cases per year and have never before complained about a wine being corked.

Have you sent them a follow-up email? I ask as sometimes winery people get busy and they inadvertently miss an email or two. Or it gets tagged as spam by filters and they don’t get it.

I would suggest a follow up email, or if that was done, a simple follow-up phone call to the winery in question.

Unacceptable. In my book, 5-6 cases per year is an excellent customer, but so is someone who purchases 5-6 bottles per year. But even the one bottle buyer deserves a respectful response.

Most likely the person who is actually putting through the refund is just not connected - just doing a job. Look up the price paid, refunding said price. You are reminding me why I do so many things myself.

But there are emails that go astray, so a follow-up email on your part - requesting a confirmation of your your email request - is definitely the next stop. If you are not happy with the response - or lack thereof - drop them. There is a ton of good wine out there.

Andy & Merrill are right. Send a follow-up email. I really doubt any winery would not want to take care of a loyal customer, especially one buying 5-6 cases a year.

Unless you’re talking about Charles Shaw then you are not that big a fish [tease.gif]

Pete I buy about 2-3 cases of Tablas Creek/year and loved the Counoise at the tasting room but one of the bottles we got was rancid. A quick email to them brought an immediate response. I would give the winery the benefit of the doubt and follow up as others suggested.

Call them.

Peter, I agree with the comments that you should call or send another email.

Bingo: Tablas actually did not replace a corked Esprit rouge when I told them about it in person at the winery, but while I love their blends I was in any case not so keen on their varietal wines. That was another 5 case a year winery.

I’m looking very much on the positive side of this. I get to save lots of money that I’ll send on buying more wines at retail.

Give them a chance. A call or second e-mail. I don’t buy from wineries or retailers who won’t stand behind a defective product.

I think a call is much more appropriate in this instance than a second email, but I don’t know what winery it is or how realistic it is to expect attention given to an email.

I’ve heard from Jason Haas. He sounds very reasonable and nice. He mentioned that they have tried to do a better job educating their team so that they would know how to handle these situations. Thumbs up to Tablas.
I still have to figure out how to deal with the more recent instance.

Jason is beyond nice. He is wine knowledgeable and a businessman. His winery events for club members are second to none. To me Tablas is at the highest end of professionalism (and great wine). They will make it right by you guaranteed.

I know email is easier, and let’s be candid, we all especially tend to want to use it instead of the phone in situations where there is some awkwardness/uncomfortableness to the subject (in this case, “will you refund or credit me for a bottle because I tell you that it was corked?”), but a phone call is really the thing to do here.

On the phone, you’ll find out once and for all whether they are willing or not willing to stand by their product and take your word as a valued customer. If you fire off another email, you’ll never really know if they are blowing you off or the right person just didn’t receive or see it somehow.

Certainly I’d probably have been better of in the case of TCV if I hadn’t just listened to the first person I came in contact with. In the current case I asked the owner directly and so I can only imagine that I’m being ignored. This is why I’m a tad hesitant.

I would speak with the head of the wine club first and tell him/her that you sent an e-mail to the owner. I would stop at that unless I knew the owner in which case I would speaker directly to the owner.

I never have sought a replacement or refund for a corked bottle. Foolish (or worse) on my part, perhaps. Point is, I don’t feel like I am owed anything for a very occasional flawed bottle - a minority position, to be sure, from all that I read here and elsewhere.

But even if I felt entitled, as a consumer I can’t imagine dropping a producer whose wine I enjoyed enough to buy 5-6 cases per year over a single flawed bottle. Biting off one’s nose and all that.

But putting my producer hat on (I own a small - emphasis on small - interest in a winery), I can’t imagine not replacing a flawed bottle. It’s the right thing to do, not to mention smart business.

I can readily imagine not responding to an email. Shouldn’t ever happen but it does, for a variety of reasons. Follow up is definitely in order.

If someone emails/calls me about a corked bottle, I let them know that I would like results from three separate TCA trials, from three different accredited labs. Then they get their replacement bottle. Simple!

In all seriousness, the email was probably overlooked or forgotten about. That is sloppy business, but give them one more try. Being the good customer you are, If they give you any attitude, I would not buy wine from them again.

Tis another reason I use all screw caps flirtysmile flirtysmile flirtysmile

In all honesty, customer service is not something our industry does the best job of. Jason is correct in that he needs to train ‘first responders’ on how to respond to such situations. He also should wine club members have a special contact to help them with any special needs for their ‘best customers’.

That said, with so many brands out there, I can understand how one might choose to ‘take your business elsewhere’, but I would caution you to do so and ask, from the industry’s position here, that you give the winery a chance to ‘make things right’. Perhaps you spoke to them on a ‘bad day’ . . . heck, we all have them. Or perhaps that email you sent got piled up in their spam folder - how would you ever know?

I agree with the others - give them a call and speak person to person. My guess is that the winery will make good.

And now for my little rant - the thing that CONTINUES to suck about this position is that you will hopefully get your replacement bottle, the winery will hopefully continue to keep a good customer, BUT the winery will be out the $$$$ for the corked wine, and the cork manufacturer will continue doing what they do without any repercussions . . . just something to think about [soap.gif]


Sometimes it’s just bad luck.

A friend of mind called 3-4x (left messages, etc.) to place an order on my behalf (my Visa had been compromised, they don’t take AmEx) and never got a call back. This same winery that is often lauded on here for great customer service. No order was placed and I bought wine elsewhere. C’est la vie.

Yep, it happens . . . . it shouldn’t, but it does . . .

And by the way, I usually answer my phone by the third ring [cheers.gif]