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Craig- Thank you for describing that feeling of anxiety that comes when you try to enjoy wine with all the ceremony of a properly presented bottle in a less than ceremonious setting. Part of the ceremony, which can easily be interpreted as a pretentious silly little show, is checking for cork taint. Whether in a 5-star restaurant or Applebee's I find the best way to deal with a bottle that is corked is to ask the waiter whether it always smells "this way." That way the ball is in their court and they are set up to want to seem knowledgeable and make sure the wine is good rather than going on the defensive as they might if you immediately insist that the wine is bad. It's also important to know the difference between a corked wine and a wine you just don't like. At Just Grapes, a wine shop here in Chicago (www.justgrapes.net), when a corked bottle is opened they will sometimes keep it around to show customers how to identify TCA.

It seems that the days of using real corks are coming to a close. While I appreciate the romance of a traditional bottle, how romantic is it when you open a bottle you've been saving for a special occasion only to find that it is corked?


TCA isn't only a wine problem. Grocery stores' produce sections are often really corky. Carrots seem expecially vulnerable. If you weren't a winemaker or wine enthusiast, you probably wouldn't notice!

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