Shakespeare’s soothsayer warned Cesar, “Be ware the Ides of March!” He didn’t and things didn’t turn out very good for him.
How to Ruin Your Wine: Smell the Cork
If you're looking for a sure fire way to ruin your wine tasting experience, we've got a plan for you. Smell the cork. When was the last time someone shoved something under your nose with the words "Smell This" and it was a good thing? Next to never. It just doesn't happen. What the "Smell This" contingent really wanted to know is if the milk had gone sour.
Some people would have you believe that cliches are cliches because they are true. Then there’s the Hollywood cliche. Ever see the staged ritual of smelling the cork? The scene is a first date. A nervous schlubby baggage claim worker has snagged a date with the stewardess who is way too hot for him. He’s blowing his entire paycheck on the restaurant and he’s determined to pretend he knows something about wine. So he demands to smell the cork when the waiter opens the wine. That’s fine for the movies but in real life, we’ve got another idea. If the waiter offers to let you smell the cork, here’s our advice -- don’t do it!
The cork can tell you a bit about the wine you’re about to enjoy -- by looking at it. Yes, check out the cork to see if it’s still soft. A brittle dry cork will mean your wine has been exposed to too much air already and it’s probably ruined.
But taking a big whiff will honk up your nose enough to interfere with the true flavor of your beverage. Smell has an important affect on how we perceive things will taste. You can look at a picture of a meal and you may not necessarily salivate. Walk down a neighborhood on 4th of July and the wafting smoke from the backyard grills where steaks and veggies are cooking will make your stomach rumble with anticipation. This is no time to shove your face into a pile of dead leaves!
When you sniff the cork, that’s essentially what you’re doing - huffing the remnants of a deciduous tree. Cork is a natural material that comes from the Cork Oak. You’re smelling a piece of squishy wood. You think that won’t have an impact on the flavor of the wine you’re about to taste? Don’t be crazy. Of course it is. That expensive glass of wine is going to taste like a hamster cage and fermented grape juice.
That’s so sad.
Do yourself a favor. Don’t trust anyone who shoves something at you while saying, “Smell This.” It’s a bad idea in general. It’s an especially terrible idea when it comes to the cork from your next bottle of wine.