GIRL_SANTA_SWEATER.JPG.jpgLet’s face it; you’re probably going to return the Santa sweater that is three sizes too big from your aunt that you see maybe twice a year. There is no shame in returning something that is wrong. Very wrong. It is this spirit of post-holiday grief that reminds us that the same thing applies to wine. If the wine is faulted, not unlike the sweater with holiday appliqué, then it is your right to return it.

Now, by faulted we are not talking about simply not liking the wine that you received. Unfortunately, wine that does not suit your sophisticated palate does not qualify as something that can be returned. However, if the wine is affected by a fault that effects the overall quality of the wine then it is your right to take it back and any reputable wine store will oblige.

So, how do you know if it’s damaged or just crappy wine? Here’s what you look for: the following are faults in a wine that should be returned to a wine store or sent back in a restaurant…

Corkiness – Or some say the wine is “corked”. This is when a distinctly musty smell is imparted to the wine by a tainted cork. It often smells like wet cardboard or mildew in a basement. This is the most common fault in a wine and we recently purchased a white Burgundy suffering from the affliction. Take it back. The only thing worse than a bad holiday sweater is a white Burgundy that you can’t enjoy.

Sulphur dioxide – This one is hard to miss, and is common in cheaper white wines. Wines with this fault often smell of burnt matches and will get right up in your nose and make you wheeze.

Acetic – This is when the wine smells of vinegar. It is caused by the presence of vinegar bacteria and oxygen together and is usually a result of bad practice in the winery.

Oxidation – In some cases, like Maderia and Sherry, oxidation can be a good thing, however in most cases, not an enjoyable experience. An oxidized wine is often brownish in color and has a tendency to smell burnt.

When it comes to wine, it is perfectly acceptable to return a bottle that is tainted. The producer and importers reputation is on the line with every bottle they sell and if it does not reflect the integrity of what was intended to go in there then they are obligated and often appreciative to replace the wine. If you’re willing to wait on line for 30 minutes at Best Buy to return the Richard Marx Greatest Hits CD, then this should be nothing. But if the wine store refuses to take it back then don’t give them your business. If they can’t stand behind what they sell, then they are no better then the fruitcake-giving-holiday-sweater-pushing-domestic-appliance-gifting people we all know and love.