Monday, March 1, 2010

The problem with bin ends

Having crowed about my bargains on Saturday, yesterday brought me down to earth with a bump: the Cuilleron Marsanne was badly corked. There's nothing for it but to take it back to the shop and get it exchanged, a task which my longsuffering husband has offered to undertake.

Of course there's no compensation for his time and trouble but at least we should get a replacement bottle. Needless to say we haven't drunk any and stoppered the bottle straight away in case of argument.

It does underline one of the problems about buying bin ends in that they may be of uncertain quality. It's possible they're reduced simply because there were a couple of corked bottles in the batch or because they were over the hill. As I mentioned Marsanne is long-lived for a white so I was reasonably confident about buying a 2006, particularly from a good producer but it does underline why so many winemakers have moved to screwcap.

It's always best to drink a bin-end within a couple of weeks of purchase otherwise you may have a problem getting the store to accept responsibility. Admittedly that's harder if you buy in quantity: I tend to buy one first then buy a couple more if I like it though even that carries some risk as there can be variation from bottle to bottle.

You also need to be careful what you buy. Light wines such as crisp whites and ros├ęs fade faster than more robust red wines so I wouldn't be inclined to pick up inexpensive wines from the 2007 vintage, say, or much older reds from the late '90s. There's a general belief that red wines only improve with age but that isn't the case.

It's also a good reason to avoid suspiciously cheap mixed cases which are usually made up of wines that have passed their peak.

What's been your experience with bin-ends? Have they proved good drinking or a disappointment?


  1. Good start to the week, a post on wine.

    I understand why producers like them, but I don't know about you, but I am quite against screwcap wines in principal. They are everywhere now, horrid. There is nothing quite like popping a cork. Even if it was a cheapy.

    But yes corked bin-ends are a risk, but rightly so!!! as they say! You pay your money and you takes your chances! That is the allure of the bargain, it comes at a risk! Surely??? :)
    I have had some bargains, which I would otherwise not have purchased.

    Albeit, I think I am correct in saying the Sales of Goods Act still applies, reglardless of wethers its on offer or not. If they are selling it, it is their problem, I should be entitled to my pennies. Only once did I fall foul, but I was to lazy to return it.

    Wine and age. Interesting. I believe that fine wines, as is the case with fine women, do certainly improve with age. A cheap wine, or for that matter a cheap woman, will remain beyond redemption forever! :)

  2. Only an Italian could bring sex into this post, Luigi

    Yes, the sale of goods act applies - wine should be drinkable, even if it is a bin end.

    I have to say I'm not with you on screwcaps though. If they're OK for olive oil why not for wine. And they're so much easier than pulling a cork (but I know men like to ;-)

  3. So Screwcaps, are far easier for the wine producers, less care needed for storage, no chance of having corked bottles going to customers. No real drawbacks I can think off.

    EXCEPT, they are not traditional, arguably the character of the wine if aged is affected. BUT most importantly they are completely UNSEXY.

    Imagine you are enjoying a romantic evening at home, your other half emerges from the kitchen with a bottle of wine.

    Isn't it sexier to watch him opening a bottle skillfully, with dexterity, calmness, sophistication?

    Rather than just taking one second by acting like some kind of trained chimpanzee and simply screwing off the top, as if it were a bottle of cheap pop.

    Case for the cork is closed. :)

  4. We'll agree to differ on that, Luigi!