Returning corked wine

What do you do when a bottle of wine that you have purchased is corked or has some fault? Do we ever return corked wine to stores?

The cork vs screw cap debate is one of the most passionately pursued points amongst wine lovers, writers and producers. The pro-cork lobby along with all of its PR, press releases and nifty videos is one of the most aggressive attempts to influence consumer opinion that I have seen in the wine market.

Thanks to modern technology going a long way towards eliminating the presence of cork taint, the debate is often based around environmental issues these days. But that soggy cardboard, wet dog on the sofa, hessian sack creature that is TCA is still around, and sneaks up on you every now and then.

I was recently at a dinner when I was asked if I thought a bottle that had just been opened was corked. It wasn’t, but it raised a good question: What would one do with it if it was?

As we know, the vast majority of wine in the UK is sold through high street supermarkets. Among all the wine that I have purchased from supermarkets in the last year, I am yet to come across a corked bottle. Most of the wines have been sealed with aluminium screw caps or with Diam conglomerated corks which contribute hugely to this fact.

I did a simple email enqiry to Sainsbury’s and Tesco to ask them if they have a policy on corked wine. These were their responses:


Our policy would be that if any customer bought wine which was corked, we’d offer a refund or replacement, if accompanied by proof of purchase.

In addition to this, all our own brand food and drinks come with our Try promise. If a customer buys any of our own brand products, and is unhappy for any reason, we’ll offer a refund, if accompanied by proof of purchase.

Most of our wines now come with a screw top, as opposed to the traditional cork, which stops corking happening.

Ivan Farrell – Customer Manager


Thank you for your query regarding the return of corked wine. Our return promise, which is supposed to be on display at the Customer Service Desk at all of our stores or the till area in our smaller Express stores covers the return of wine as much as that of any other product purchased in our stores:

If any of our products falls below the high standards you expect, please bring them back within 28 days, together with your receipt, and we will happily refund or exchange the item.

If you change your mind within 28 days and have your receipt, we are happy to refund or exchange the product provided it is returned as sold with all the original packaging, tags, labels and all accessories.

Thomas Goetze – Customer Service Manager

It would seem that they have themselves confidently covered and Ivan specifically mentions the closures in his response.

But I would like to see the conversation at customer services if I tried to return a corked bottle. Ironically I would need to buy more expensive wines in their store if I wanted to try and ‘find’ a corked one. I’ll call it research. That sounds like a good enough excuse to me…

2 Responses to “Returning corked wine”

  1. We routinely take corked bottles back. Usually Morrisons or Tesco. Always replaced pleasantly with no quibble.Likewise when customers return ours, which we replace with two.

  2. Kevin Ecock says:

    We don’t have a Sainsbury’s over here but when I bring corked bottles back to Tesco there is, sadly, no conversation at all – they issue a credit immediately. No hassle. No fuss. No conversation. But not two bottles! Good on you Oatley.