How Do You Know a Wine Is Corked (& How Do You Send It Back)?
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Photo by Tracie Parzen Conservative studies estimate that 5 to 6 percent of wine is affected by some sort of defect. That's roughly one in 20 bottles.
The following is a true story.
A few years ago, my wife, Tracie P -- then a wine sales rep -- and I were running late for a dinner with the upper-echelon management team of the company for whom she worked, one of the major players in the Texas wine scene.
We were stressed. We weren't just having dinner with her boss; we were having dinner with the boss of her boss's boss.
Thanks to a navigation mishap, we arrived 45 minutes late to the swank Dallas restaurant where the dinner was held. The table of ten leading Texas wine professionals had already finished a first bottle of white wine and the group was enjoying a bottle of red, for the record, a vineyard-designated Montepulciano d'Abruzzo.
One of the guests poured us each a glass as we sat down. Tracie swirled and sniffed. And then she gestured to me to lean closer.
"The wine is corked," she whispered. "Didn't they notice?"
Of the ten seasoned tasters present, not one had detected the cork taint. After Tracie politely mentioned that she thought the wine was corked, everyone at the table revisited the wine and all agreed: There was no denying that the wine had an unmistakable note of musty cork.
As surprising as it may be, it happens more often than you would imagine. It might be because someone's nose and palate are "off" on a given night. It might be because the chaotic nature of fine dining often distracts even the most sensitive taster. Or it could be owed to the fact that stress -- like that created by having dinner with your boss -- can cloud your ability to evaluate the fitness of a wine.
After all, we weren't sitting in a quiet temperature- and humidity-controlled room at 9 in the morning with well-rested palates.
This story continues on the next page.