Vintage matters – part II
When you buy a product online, you expect to receive exactly what you ordered. Right? I certainly do. Though unfortunately with wine, this is not always the case.
I have written in the past how I find it wildly frustrating when I order a glass, or bottle, of wine in a restaurant, of a particular vintage, and then I am given a different vintage to the one listed (read my previous article here). This week I had a similar experience with online retailers.Online sales are big business. What is advertised should always be available for purchase.
Upon ordering two cases of wine of a specific vintage, from a major Australian wine retailer, I called to check that I would indeed be sent the vintage I had ordered.
Firstly, I was told by the salesperson that they were unable to tell me what vintage I would receive. Really? They justified this by the clause listed on the website that ‘vintages on offer may vary’.
Statements such as this show that there is a lack of appreciation that vintage matters. Wine produced in one year is different from the next. Or perhaps the thought is that no one will notice the difference?
I find it hard to fathom that a retailer can send a customer a different product to what was ordered. And secondly, when queried, that they couldn’t tell the customer the actual product they would receive.
After I expressed my disbelief and stated that this was terrible customer service, I asked if they could call their warehouse to check the vintage. Firstly, they said no but then reluctantly agreed. It turned out that they did not have the wine I had ordered, so I cancelled the delivery.
I went on to call another retailer and experienced the same issue. Their system did not enable the salesperson to view the vintage of the wine that was stock. When the bottles were physically checked, the vintage was not the one I wanted, as listed on their website. I consequently did not place an order.
I did this with another three retailers, and the problem continued. And it was not just an issue with vintage roll-over. In one case the vintage listed was a few years older than the actual one for sale.
There is clearly a lack of acknowledgement, from some retailers, that wine is a product which is produced each year, and that the style and quality do vary based on seasonal fluctuations, the specific conditions in the winery and the particular winemaker and viticulturist involved in its production. Not to mention the age of the wine having an impact on how it tastes.
A particular vintage should never be substituted with another. If it was to occur, at the very least the customer should be informed and asked if they wish to proceed with the sale. Price is irrelevant; it should not matter if the wine is AUD $200 or AUD $20.
Online sales are big business. What is advertised should always be available for purchase. Not having visibility of the actual vintages for sale is a failing of the retailer’s systems, not to mention misleading to their customers.
Imagine ordering lamb and getting mutton? What about dry-aged beef that had not been aged? Or, buying a crisp white shirt and receiving one that was loose-knit and beige.
We don’t accept automatic product substitution in other products that we buy. So, it should not happen with wine.