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Don't Be A Dork With Your Cork!

leah elisheva

Master of the Pit
Joined Sep 19, 2013

Happy Tuesday to all and here is a “CHEERS” to terrific things!

Somebody asked me to discuss “what to do with the cork” when out to dinner and being served wine to taste or try before it’s fully poured, and also, if corks could be thrown in with SMOKING CHIPS or used as such.

And so, I am happy to share my "two sips worth," and hope that it helps answer such in any kind of way or at minimum provides enough lavatory reading to entertain one or start their morning well…

Smelling your date’s armpit, with overt gesticulations and in a five star restaurant nonetheless, would be more couth than smelling a wine cork. And here’s why...

You won’t learn about the wine by smelling the cork. You may learn what a tree smells like. But Adirondack excursions today surely provide such sensorial experiences.

Certainly if you have a “corked” bottle of wine (a wine contaminated with Trichloroanisole, a contaminant found in corks but also in barrels, and sometimes even wood in a cellar), then a musty smell may be evident in your cork.

But if some unpleasant yet mild acidity rests in the wine, pushing the cork up your nostrils will not give you a clue.

And if that bottle is corked, you won’t need the cork itself to tell you that. Tasting the wine works better than all else, and you’ll smell and recognize that “grandmother’s attic aura” emanating from the wine before it hits your throat.

But a ‘corked’ bottle is truly worlds rarer than people think and more common in the tropics where wine delivery and storage can involve temperatures of severe heat. Don’t order expensive wine in the tropics for this reason and don’t fall for ignorant people who think “some cork was floating in the wine and so that means it’s a corked bottle”. Not the case.

Others believe they should squeeze or feel the cork. This urban myth amuses me most, and is quite entertaining to view; as folk massage what they view as the "Ouija Board" of the wine they’re drinking, and thus hope to be granted a wealth of information regarding the goods in the bottle.

But there are firm corks that have rancid acid following behind and corks which are removed in three or fifteen crumbled pieces but to reveal quite beautiful liquid! So that “test,” just doesn't entirely make all that much sense.

Some people still, two dates out of my too many, try to read the cork! They may be reading the name of the wine as to assure that they haven’t been “tricked” and thus given phony grape juice filtered carefully into a three-hundred dollar bottle of vino and then stuffed shut with the original cork that shall reveal the rot gut for whatever it is! Paranoia may have its merits, but not at dinner.

Save cork reading for the graphologists or folk who check the scripted print of design logos. Read the menu instead.

The rule to know, is: IGNORE the cork. Do nothing. The sommelier will place it there and politely wait for you to do something. But do nothing. Nothing!

Don't talk to the cork, don't put it up your partner's derrière - at least not right there in the restaurant - and if the sommelier becomes obnoxious and really pushes it in front of you and hesitates to pour the wine; then you could, I suppose, take your steak knife and proceed to hack the object up and into infinitesimal bits until your server drops the bottle and the restaurant is cleared and closed for your private enjoyment.

But simply nodding toward the holder of wine, with the encouraging words, “Wonderful, thank you. Go right ahead and pour,” should result with some wine in your glass.

When SMOKING food at home, perhaps saved corks could be glued onto grapevine wreaths and made into holiday décor to hang on smokehouses, or simply added in some creative way to your home life and smoking environment too.

I have not personally thrown corks in with smoking chips, as corks CAN harbor mold and bacteria and dust when sitting around (as in my vases shown above, which I did finally cleared out, and since they seem to replenish themselves rather quickly) but "barrel oak chunks" are sold, having been saturated in wine, for various smoke related purposes and so I’m certain that all the master smokers here could conjure up various ways to use up corks as well.

Regardless, I do hope this morning's blather helps to answer those questions well. Now I want wine!!! Amazing how that seed of suggestion begins...

Cheers to all, and to this terrific Tuesday! Make today delicious! - Leah



Smoking Fanatic
Joined Dec 31, 2009
Thanks, Leah.  Informative, and entertaining ( and somewhat disturbing
) post.

leah elisheva

Master of the Pit
Thread starter
Joined Sep 19, 2013
Thank you Aeroforce100!

I am delighted if I was helpful and/or entertaining in any way! Cheers!!!!!! - Leah


Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
Joined Jul 26, 2011
Cork has lost traction here because we are to small a market to far away from cork producers which means we get sub standard corks dumped here. We are to far from source to do much & we were losing sometimes as much as 10% of a case of wine to cork taint. 

Yes there is a wonderful tradition that goes with cork but not at the expense of the wine itself.I have some great old corkscrews that I  bought in markets but they are decorative now. 

Some wine is still under cork but screw caps will be the choice regardless of the price bracket of the wine itself.

leah elisheva

Master of the Pit
Thread starter
Joined Sep 19, 2013
Indeed Mick, the ani-microbial modality which many wineries strive to achieve via screw caps and/or glass stoppers and various "methods" versus cork, is replacing many wine corks - worldwide.

And while I feel that "screwing isn't good enough" and that authentic romance is delivered via the old fashioned cork, I can of course appreciate why it is done en masse today indeed.

Here's to fabulous libation, however it be enclosed, and to even better company!!! Cheers! - Leah

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