do you smell corks?


My advice, is that advice, like exercise, is not absolute – it’s about what works for you.

I’ve more than once read articles from (let’s call them) opinion-formers, who state quite categorically that cork sniffing has absolutely no use, and is, charitably(!) nothing more than an affectation – I beg to differ.

It’s not 100% certain, but my reckoning it’s 95% certain that when I open a bottle and sniff the wet-end of the cork, if it smells of TCA, then my wine will be corked. Simple!

Yesterday’s Lafon probably increased these odds to 95.01%. The cork came out whole and in good shape – but it didn’t smell ‘correct’ – I was sure there was TCA. The wine in my glass, straight from the fridge – as it’s still summer – had some beautiful red fruit on the nose, but also an accent of something – something unwanted – in the background. As the wine in the glass slowly came to room temperature, the fruit became ever-better, but that background note, comparatively, grew more. The wine was corked – moderately – but corked. I could drink half a glass, cold, but still whilst wrinkling my nose – unsure. But there was a threshold where the cork-taint became clear – then it was over. Sometimes what’s in glass is unclear, but usually the cork doesn’t lie.

So, don’t do what others would have you do, do what works for you…

As an aside; rightfully I should be even more annoyed with a corked wine that I’ve had in my cellar for 20 years than a recent purchase – right? But it doesn’t seem to work that way – each one is a similar loss. Okay, I’ve never (yet!) opened a corked Romanée-Conti…

Agree? Disagree? Anything you'd like to add?

There are 5 responses to “do you smell corks?”

  1. Gary PALUBA24th August 2017 at 11:23 amPermalinkReply

    Does that mean Romanee Conti has solved the issue of “corked corks?”

    • billn24th August 2017 at 11:42 amPermalinkReply

      No, it means that I don’t open enough Romanée-Conti 🙂

  2. Claude Kolm25th August 2017 at 7:19 amPermalinkReply

    Alas, I can verify that corked Romanée-Conti exists, and corked DRC Montrachet, too. At least they weren’t on my dime.

    • billn25th August 2017 at 8:40 amPermalinkReply

      Oh yes I’ve had at least 4 corked DRC, including 78 La Tache! Fortunately, I didn’t open them and the eere not from my cellar …

  3. Gilberto25th August 2017 at 10:41 amPermalinkReply

    Ouch, that must be painful! But I guess a short email to the Domaine suffices to get a replacement next day on your doorstep. Same vintage of course

    • billn25th August 2017 at 10:58 amPermalinkReply

      The domaine doesn’t replace bottles!

  4. Gary PALUBA25th August 2017 at 10:57 amPermalinkReply

    With comment on the Montrachet, raised q of whether DRC whites have oxidation issues. Never had a DRC white, but the handful of reds never corked.

    • billn25th August 2017 at 11:00 amPermalinkReply

      Lots of reports of poxed DRC Montrachet I’m afraid…

  5. hammervino27th August 2017 at 3:46 amPermalinkReply

    Agree entirely Bill. Sniffing the cork works well for me as an initial guide as to possible TCA (or not).

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