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SCHNOOKERED AT SCHNUCKS? Bad red wine, and a hassle returning it

COLUMBIA, 4/4/12  (Review) --  Warning, all ye on-sale wine connoisseurs.  After buying and trying two different reds from Schnuck's wine sale grocery cart, this oenophile has had enough. 

With Chardonnays and some of the drier whites, one needn't be too careful.   But with reds -- Zinfandels, Cabernets, Merlots, Shirazes, Clarets, Pinots, Syrahs, and a host of different grape mixtures, I usually look for a Napa/Sonoma or Washington State pedigree; an especially dry Norton local to Missouri; a good Aussie label; or a Spanish red like a Malbec.  I also go for smaller out-of-state wineries that make their way to Missouri.  All are common in most Columbia stores, and I'm rarely disappointed. 

When wines that fit my tastes show up on sale, I get in line with everyone else.  The bottles usually go fast.  

At Schnuck's this second time around, I spotted a 2006 Renwood Zinfandel, a $15 bottle on sale for $8 from a winery with a good reputation.   I bought it, but with a certain hesitation.  Would it be bad again?   Lightning strike twice?  Never!
 
At home, I took off the cork cover.  Uh oh -- a slight bulge and tell-tale signs of "cork bleed" -- discoloration that indicates air might have entered.  Though I should have stopped when I was ahead, I persisted. 

Out came the cork.  Sniff test.  Pungent.  Taste test.  Vinegary.  Yuck!   Wife test.   She gave me the look that said, "You have failed, my valiant spouse, once again, in your quest for the perfect on-sale vino."   

Darn!  But despite the urge, I won't take it back this time.  At Gerbes, Southside, Joe's, Top Ten, and other wine purveyors, if I have to return a bottle, no problem -- no matter the reason or circumstances. 

But not at Schnuck's.   They refunded my money, but not until two "customer service" clerks spent 10 minutes debating the situation.  The bottle was open, some wine was missing.   I hadn't brought the receipt.  There was some state law, they said, about taking back spirits under such dubious circumstances.  
 
I bought the bottle two days earlier and it had a distinct Schnuck's price label, I explained.   Plus, several more of the same bottles sat ready in the sales basket.  I pointed to the basket.  I offered the two clerks a sip, just to prove how bad it tasted.  They declined.   They asked how I paid for the bottle.  Debit card.  Maybe we can go through the system and check the debit card receipts, they suggested.   That sounded like it would take forever, so I asked for the store manager.  
 
They called him and we waited.  And waited.   There's a law about store managers:  Whenever they are called to resolve a customer issue, they are always on the other side of the store.   

The manager was nice and I appreciated his time, though I wondered why Schnucks doesn't empower its customer service reps to do such routine tasks.   Now, though, I remember that old saying:  Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice -- the heck with it.  I'll eat the price.
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