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Is it okay to refuse to pay for a bottle of wine after tasting it in a restaurant?

The purpose of the ceremony of the waiter opening a bottle of wine and pouring a bit into your glass is not for you to taste the wine. You are intended to swirl it in the glass to mix it with some air, and then smell—not taste the wine.

The purpose is to determine whether the wine is “corked.” Whether the cork has failed to do its job of keeping the wine isolated from the outside atmosphere during the years it has been stored. There’s a reason wine is stored on its side in the bottle. That keeps the cork saturated, and that in turn keeps the bottle sealed. If a bottle of wine has been improperly stored, by standing upright for months or years, for instance, the cork can dry out and fail—cease to maintain an airtight seal. And when the outside atmosphere enters, the wine spoils. It sours. Goes rotten. Or perhaps it has some other fault, like being “lightstruck”—spoiled by being exposed to bright light.

Wine that is “off” can almost always be identified immediately by smelling it. You do not need to taste it and you shouldn't. The etiquette, the best practice, is to swirl, smell, and if the wine is not “off” you nod to the waiter, who then pours the wine for you and your guests.

In a very fine restaurant, where there is a wine steward or sommelier, that person will open the bottle at your table, inspect the cork, pour a bit of the wine into their tastevin—the little shallow silver cup they wear on a chain around their neck, and if it should happen that the wine is bad, the sommelier will know this without having to pour you a sample. They will say something like “I’m sorry, this bottle is off. If you will excuse me I’ll get another bottle for you.”

But in an ordinary restaurant where your server opens and pours the little sample for you—then presents the cork for you to inspect—you should swirl and sniff, and if the wine is corked you will know immediately by the smell. Tasting is not necessary. Inspecting the cork is a backup method. A corked wine will have a dried-out or cracked cork, or you may be able to see that the cork has failed in some other way. Attacked by fungus. Bored out by insects. Who knows? It's an uncertain world, for wine just as much as for people.

In this case you reject the bottle diplomatically, saying something like “it has spoiled” or “it has gone bad.” And your server will take it away and bring you something different.

“Wine tasting” means something different, and entirely more joyful. It's a party for you and your wine drinking friends. Maybe at the winery. Maybe at home where you can fall down on something soft, if necessary.


This information was taken from Quora. Click here to view the original post.

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65 Comments
jonbroberts
We were at a 5 star restaurant when a big DC liberal politician made a scene refusing 3 bottles of wine. The sommelier looked puzzled when I loudly asked to try the wine. He said "but why sir?" I replied "anything that liberal puppet dislikes will probably taste great to me!" We took that bottle and others took the remaining two. It was excellent wine. To top it off the sommelier brought us all free Brandy after dinner. It tasted like nectar of the Gods. The owner still laughs every time I find there.
1
Sep 29, 2021 6:00PM
brian stapelkamp
Lynda Miller, therefore the wine should never be ‘corked’
0
May 24, 2021 5:04PM
teetorworks
Really. They also come in waxed boxes. Every vintner provides a Vintage Date. Only the finest offer an expiration date!Lynda Miller,
0
Apr 20, 2020 9:24PM
dmtaylor
I can tell immediately by the taste.
1
Mar 11, 2020 12:21PM
Iancompat
Iancompat, Also, they are not wines one would keep for many years, as with Bordeaux. Mainly Australian (Shiraz) or Argentinian Malbec that would be drunk soon after purchase>
0
Jan 6, 2020 3:15PM
Iancompat
You'd have to be pretty damn good at our age to judge it by simply sniffing. Any expert would always taste it!
0
Jan 6, 2020 3:12PM
Glenn Battles
Lynda Miller, The capping machine puts the cap on so snuggly that it will not let air in.
0
Aug 16, 2019 6:35PM
Lynda Miller
Many perfectly good wines are now proffered in screw-top bottles. What then?
0
Jul 21, 2019 6:17PM
Rose Marie Levis
Great info for a not so seasoned wine drinker.
2
Jul 13, 2019 7:03PM
gtrman423
All these years looking like a "Wine-a-be" to the servers. Thanks for the info.
1
Jul 12, 2019 8:02AM
Graham Russell
Mary Bates not! Unless it’s replaced
0
May 2, 2019 6:45PM
Reynante Sagragao
It's an added info for me, a very valuable one. Thanks for this. Our Vino Kulafu here needs no swirling and smelling, i can gulp it to my satisfaction!!
1
Apr 18, 2019 9:51AM
Marie Giles
I’m very simple I liked my beer and Jack Daniels I had never learned about the wine thing so now that I’m ancient lol I finally know why it’s swirled and all the rest interesting read
2
Mar 27, 2019 5:04PM
Margaret Louise Gifford
Thanks for the interesting explanation. I did not know all of these details.
2
Mar 26, 2019 6:18PM
vlc
vlc
Bob Bracegirdle, Have someone else smell it for you or drink vodka instead :)
0
Mar 23, 2019 6:48PM

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