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The presentation of a wine at a restaurant is dramatic dance. The server will elegantly deliver and show the bottle off, then make the first pour which you are to taste. If you should elect, you can then approve or disapprove of the bottle’s quality.
But there is one aspect of the process that has no business being a part of it. Smelling the cork.
For a long time now servers have presented the cork from a wine in front of the tester. What changed was that someone decided it was worth smelling. Now it has become a norm to smell the cork in order to discern unique qualities of a wine before it is tasted.
The problem with this is that the cork will not help you better taste or know the wine because it will smell like, you guessed it, cork. While there may be slight hints of wine that has gotten into the cork it won’t be a true representation of what the wine will taste like.
The only real value the cork provides when it is presented is that it will show whether a bottle has been tainted or cooked. You can tell this from how far the colouring from the wine has spread up the cork.
A fine bottled wine will have only wine colouring on the bottom tip and a little around the tip. If the wine colouring spreads halfway up the cork then there may be issues with the taste of the bottle. If you are presented a cork which has wine colouring all the way to the top of the cork then the bottle is more than likely bad and it should be sent back.
So next time you are served a bottle of wine and the cork is given to you, don’t take a smell but make sure you take a look.