Corky paranoia, the fear of getting hassled for returning a corked bottle of wine, was an ongoing problem that we had learned to live with. We just accepted that look of contempt from a waiter or store clerk as they refunded your money or replaced your bottle as part of being a wine aficionado. I remember one experience in Chicago when I returned a spoiled bottle only to have the restaurant refuse to bring me a bottle of the same wine assuming that there was nothing wrong with the wine and that I just didn’t like it. Even with all these hassles over the years there was always a real person there to whom I could actually return the bad bottle to prove my point. In fact, I always kind of enjoyed watching the restaurant manager or store clerk taste one of these stinky bottles to check on me. As a grimace of disgust crossed their face, I could hardly resist the urge to pleasantly quip, “I told you so.” Of course, the reason we have corky paranoia in the first place is because all to often they taste a brutally bad bottle only to respond, “It seems fine to me.” before they grudgingly refund your money or bring you a new bottle.
Now that I am buying quite a bit of wine via the internet, the new issue of virtual corky paranoia has settled in. Now when I get a bad bottle there’s no one to hand the offending bottle back to and the best you can do is call and complain. All to often I have shrugged my shoulders as I poured a bottle down the drain that I have purchased online and just let it go, but this kind of attitude can make things quite expensive. After all, if you buy 6 bottles for $20 and one of them is bad, you just increased your purchase price to $24 a bottle. When you remember you also had to pay shipping on these wines it can soon become a very bad deal to buy online. Considering that the minimum number of corked bottles you’ll get is 5%, not being able to return spoiled bottles purchased online could put a good dent in your wine budget.
Last week a bottle I had purchased from Chambers Street Wines was corked and, after I poured it down the drain, I decided to shoot them off an email to see what would happen. Within the hour I had a return email where they gave me a credit to apply on my next purchase. Now, I know that Chambers Street is no ordinary wine merchant, but what this proves is that it’s well worth your time to seek out a real wine merchant like Chambers Street as they understand the issue and can respond appropriately.
Merchants like Chambers Street are the only proven therapy for corky paranoia.