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Should I toss out wine I think is corked?

The question

I recently opened a wine I thought might be corked. It didn't bother me, but I threw it out. Did I do the right thing?

The answer

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I'd say so. When you think a wine is corked, it probably is, assuming you know a bit about cork taint.

That unpleasant odour (and taste), variously described as mouldy basement, wet cardboard and gym locker, comes in degrees. It depends on how badly the wine has been contaminated by the polluted fungus in bad cork.

A wine can suffer even when you don't sense the odour directly. This happens when the taint is below the human perception threshold but it leaves its mark in a smoking-gun sort of way – by muting the fruit in an otherwise tasty wine. In other cases, you may not pick up the odour initially and only notice halfway through your first glass (don't fret, this happens to experts frequently).

There's no health risk, so if you'd prefer not to waste the bottle and can tolerate a whiff of gym locker, be my guest. I, on the other hand, hate the odour and simply don't like the idea of consuming tainted wine. But there's a better solution than pouring it out. If you kept the receipt, take it to the store and try to get a refund – or at least a second opinion.

E-mail your wine and spirits questions to Beppi Crosariol. Look for answers to select questions to appear in the Wine & Spirits newsletter and on The Globe and Mail website.

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About the Author
Life columnist

Beppi Crosariol writes about wine and spirits in the Globe Life and Style sections.He has been The Globe's wine and spirits columnist for more than 10 years. In the late 1990s, he also wrote a food trends column called The Biting Edge.Beppi used to cover business law for ROB and previously edited the paper's weekly technology section. More


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