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At what point do you send back a wine?  I mean really, at what point do you actually send a wine back at a restaurant?

The accepted, and expected, practice is to send back a wine that is corked.  What about a wine that just seems ‘off?’  Or, do you send a wine back if you just don’t like it?

This weekend my wife and I had dinner at a local restaurant, and ordered a half-bottle of Syrah for dinner – the Baileyana Firepeak Vineyard 2004 Syrah to pair with our dinner.

Soon after the first whiff, I knew something was ‘off.’  Although I didn’t pick up the familiar wet cardboard odor that dominates a corked wine, I did get weird ‘off’ aromas like wet dirt, hints of sauerkraut, and a metallic smell.  Since I was really jonesing for a Syrah, I gave this wine the benefit of the doubt and really wanted to like it – especially with subtle hints of dark blackberry and plum trying to sneak through.

The wine wasn’t corked but something was definitely wrong with it (at least I hope this wine wasn’t intended to show this way). Sip after sip, I kept thinking I should send it back, but I just couldn’t bring myself to ask our waitress to return this one for another bottle.

My wife’s short stint as a waitress 12 years ago, coupled with my experiences as a restaurant bus boy back in high school, have forever, indelibly marked me with soft spot for food service workers.

So… at what point do you send wine back?  Would you send back a wine that wasn’t corked, but one that you just didn’t like?