Cork, be Damned!

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.



  1. I to, have had this experience. Not nice! But I have to ask, what is the black stuff in with the cork? Great to see that you were able to enjoy despite the battle and words. Cheers.


Leave a Reply to armchairsommelier Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s