To sniff or not to sniff, that is the cork.

You and five of your newest business acquaintances, soon to be contributing 12 Mio. to your annual bottom line, are sitting at THE prime table at "Fresco Di Papa" (if you don’t know this coolest of restos, don’t bother to read any further) (ahhh…cmon man… there ain’ t no such place… is there?… really? and and and…) (never mind). So as I was saying, the bottle of "Chateau Jenesaispa’s" (Obligué, 1963) that you so knowledgeably ordered has just arrived via your waiter (Gino), the sommelier, the summer student to be sommelier, the cellar master, the sommelier (again) and finally Gino (the attendant waiter, again).

As refined culture would have it, Gino presents the bottle for your inspection.
You verify that indeed the bottle presented is the bottle ordered. More importantly, you ascertain that the YEAR of the bottle is indeed the one you ordered (learned that lesson at the very fine and trendy "Baise Moi", frequented primarily by politicos) .

Label authenticated (you are assuming the summer student, soon to be sommelier, didn’t shtick a fancy label on a crappy wine here…learned that at… never mind), Gino proceeds to swiftly and elegantly remove the cork from the bottle (in the prescribed manner dictated by the renowned "Cork Saveur" school of thought) and places it ceremoniously in front of you.

In studied motions, you retrieve your reading glasses from your starched shirt’s breast pocket and slowly pick up the cork with a precisely executed flourish reminiscent of the great conductor "Caraya Parmegiano" picking up his baton in order to conduct the "Verdachi" operetta "Demisere di ultima snobo".

Your 12 Mio newly acquired contributor’s eyes are fixed in hypnotic fascination on you and the cork.

You study the cork beginning with the state of it’s constitution:

  • It is sound (it didn’t crumble when you picked it up).
  • It is old and of good quality (several "age rings" visible, feels firm over all)
  • The markings confirm that the bottle it belonged to is the bottle you ordered
  • The inside end is slightly moist and appears to be saturated (confirms the bottle was stored properly)
  • No visible mold
  • No creepy crawlies or worms exiting from the cork’s pores

You then give the cork a squeeze. First the outside end, then the inside end.
Firm on the outside, medium to medium-rare on the inside. Just how it should be.
Again confirming the soundness of the tree bark and it’s function of keeping the wine in the bottle and the nasties outside of it.

You then proceed to maneuver it (the cork) towards your highly educated and perfectly attuned sniffing organ (sometimes referred to as "the nose" but henceforth referred to as the "sniffer") in order to obtain from it an opinion on the health of the wine you are about to taste.
Your sniffer informs you authoritatively of the fact that the wine in the bottle it came from is in fact probably but almost certainly if not definitely maybe OK.
No vinegar smell, no musty smell, no unrecognized smells.
You are thinking to yourself "Ahhhh, what a relief. I don’t have to send back the bottle." (Sending back the bottle – that’s a whole other story right there so come back later).

Satisfied that you are not about to insult everyone around the table by letting Gino pour bad wine, you motion to Gino with an elegant head movement akin to a head movement you saw "Romanoff Padwiskyii" perform in the ballet "Vino di Dodo", to proceed and pour the obligatory mouthful of wine for you to taste and reach a final verdict.

You confidently raise the glass to your lips, take a measured sip of the wine, swirl….no, expectorate it instantly into the face of the person across from you, dropping the glass to the floor in the process, grabbing your throat with both hands and slowly but surely die the death of the wine snob and kissing the 12 Mio. goodbye.

Wine CorkThe moral of the story is simple.
The cork is just the cork.
It tells nothing reliable.
If the waiter is waiting for you to do something with it before pouring you some wine to taste, outsnob the snobs – pick it up and put it back down a bit further away from you.
Hopefully she’ll get the message and pour you the wine to taste.


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