Why we smell the cork after opening the bottle?

What information can we get smelling the cork?

When it comes to enjoy a bottle of wine, we have to put attention to uncorking the bottle. As, even if it sounds awkward, one of the most sensible stages during the elaboration of wine; is the bottling process, and therefore its closure and cork.

When someone opens a bottle, usually the sommelier, he smells the cork, and even sometimes he offers it to the dinner guests so they can also do the same. We may wonder the reason why. Could we really find distinctive aromas smelling a cork? What could we find?

We can discover many important matters. Among them, if the cork has any problem like TCA, or trichloroanisol the notorious “cork taint”. This TCA is released due to the presence of a fungus in the cork tree. And it becomes a headache for the winemakers.

 We can also figure out the aromas that we’ll be able to find during the tasting. We can find more aromas that depicts other problems, like soggy cardboard, or wet dog, vinegar or even glue. Popularly, we’d say that it’s “spoiled” wine. 

It is also important the color of the cork, the side in contact with wine. On red wine, when it’s young, we will be able to find purple colors, even brilliant colors. In Reserva or Gran Reserva wines we will find darker and muted colors.

We can also find the shape. It should be uniform, as if there’s any lump, it could have been caused by a temperature change and perhaps, it might have a fault.

Then, what’s the function of the cork? There are many kinds of closures or stoppers, but corks is the one that has certain special features, as it provides a micro-oxygenation of the wines. We know that it’s taken from the cork oak, and it has microscopic pores that allows oxygen to flow through it, but avoids the wine leaking.

And at last, what we should do if we find cork faults at a restaurant? First of all, we should wait a few minutes to confirm the problem. Next, you can discreetly notify the server or sommelier, this way they could change the bottle for a new one.