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Cork, be Damned!

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As wine lovers, it’s happened to all of us (and if it hasn’t happened to you . . . you aren’t drinking enough wine).  You’re all set to pull the cork out of a bottle of wine and only part of it comes out.  It’s très annoying.  Get the strainer, this is going to be a two-parter.

But what if it’s a 283-parter?

I’m pretty sure this is the single worst cork I’ve ever removed from a bottle of wine.  And a serious contender for the biggest pile of sediment.

Quelle horreur!

After the first 16 pieces, I saw this as a real and credible threat to my wine-opening skills and decided this cork would not beat me.  It took me 20 minutes to coax this pile of cork dust and sediment out of the bottle.  I tried to push the cork into the bottle, but it wouldn’t budge (seriously, is this thing super-glued into the bottle??).  There was some rather inelegant language.  And I considered using the full bottle to christen my driveway.

More coaxing and more inelegant language.  And then finally . . . the cork was out!

I win!!

But, I did not have a good feeling about the wine.  I felt like I was about to pour a fifty-dollar bill down the drain.

Please don’t smell like a wet dog in a moldy basement.
Please don’t smell like a wet dog in a moldy basement.
Please don’t smell like a wet dog in a moldy basement.

I decanted the wine through a strainer (no one likes chunkies in their wine).  And then I poured it back through the little strainer on my Vinturi into my wine glass.  I stuck my nose into the glass, and prepared for the worst.

Holy Mother of Bacchus!!  This wine smells . . . good.  [Pause to taste].  This wine is out-DAMN-standing!

One of the best Tempranillos I’ve had in recent memory.  Just a glorious bottle of wine.

I even had the presence of (surprised) mind to sit down and write a tasting note that night:

img_7598-1Bodegas San Román Toro 2004
A beautiful tawny color in the glass.  A fine sediment (the leftovers that didn’t filter out after two passes through my strainers) lingers, but I don’t care.  Beautifully balanced, with powerful, yet graceful flavors of fig, prune, vanilla, tobacco, cocoa, dried cranberry, leather, earth, wet leaves.  I could go on, but I just want to drink it now.  The intensity is starting down the sunset path, but it still finishes in grand fashion.

I didn’t open this bottle a moment too soon . . . but it was fantastic!

Obviously this was a super-dry cork.  Which is odd, because this bottle had been stored in my basement, on its side, since I purchased it.  It shouldn’t have been dry.  I guess this will just have to remain one of the great mysteries of my life.

The moral of my story?  Don’t judge a bottle by its cork.  Although the condition of a cork can foreshadow a wine gone bad, the only way to know for sure is to taste the wine.


Armchair Sommelier Wine Tasting Guide

Spice up your next party with our FREE wine tasting guide! Learn what to look, smell, and taste for while appreciating your favorite bottle. We’ve also included a printable tasting notes template and a tasting wheel.