Ask a sommelier: When is it too late to send back a bottle of wine?

Thursday, 11 July, 2024
VinePair, Hannah Staab
What to do if you have second thoughts after the wine is poured and the somm has moved on?

If you’re at a restaurant with proper wine service, you’ll likely witness what looks like a well-rehearsed dance: A guest thumbs through a binder of options and consults the sommelier once or twice before reaching a decision for the table. The somm presents the bottle, and takes it away to open it and subtly test it for flaws. Then the server returns, presents the cork, and pours a taste for the guest for further inspection. The diner gives the go-ahead with a slightly awkward “this is great, thanks” or, if the wine is flawed, sends it back to start the process all over again.

This ritual between sommelier and guest usually stops when both parties approve the wine. But what if a diner has second thoughts after their wine is poured and the somm has moved on? VinePair tapped Mackenzie Khosla, sommelier at New York’s wine-focused pizza joint Pasquale Jones, to help navigate the tricky situation.

It’s important to establish that the traditional back-and-forth outlined above isn’t really in place to get the drinker’s opinion on the wine, but instead to gauge whether or not the wine is sound.

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