An effete wine server ostentatiously extracts the cork and pretentiously presents it to you. Now what?
Do you studiously examine the cork for flaws? Smell it? Lick it?
No. No. And no. Today there is only one reason to explore the cork, and it is so arcane as to be implausible for almost any restaurant you would deign to visit or wine you would order. You examine the cork to ensure wine ordered is wine served.
Long, long ago labels were perishable and wine rested in cellars for years. When you purchased a precious pour, there was more than a remote chance the label would have disintegrated. Wineries began branding corks to assure imbibers the juice was genuine.
You order first-growth Bordeaux, label disintegrated through wine-mellowing years, only the cork affirms it is what seller in the cellar claims. Fair enough. In 1800s, some merchants practiced ruse of re-filling bottles with lesser libations.
Today, except in the most outlandish circumstances, this flim-flam seldom exists. Today, it is just as likely the label will outlive the cork or the whole assemblage will be fake (ask the Chinese).
So, what do you do? If you collect corks, put it in your pocket. Otherwise, don’t do anything; allow server to dispose of the plug. More disinterested and nonchalant you are the better. What matters is in the glass, not closure detritus.
• Justin Central Coast Sauvignon Blanc 2014: Peach-pear-lemon nose; crisp, light with nice cutting acidity on the back of the tongue; wide distribution, good price-quality ratio. $14
• Laudun & Chusclan Vignerons Cachette Côtes-du-Rhône Red Blend 2012: Rich, ripe full body; blackcurrant and redcurrant tang, juicy cherry, red and black fruits, strawberry; value winner. $14
• Chateau Ste. Michelle Indian Wells Chardonnay (Columbia Valley) 2013. Light, creamy, extra dry; complex, delicious delight with food and sipped solo. $15-17
• Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi Chianti Rufina Riserva Nipozzano Vecchie Viti 2011. Multi-dimensional raspberry, cherry, rose nose; sour cherry, blueberry, raspberry, bit of chocolate on the palate. $29
• Xavier Vins Cuvée Anonyme X Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2009: Astonishingly delicious blackberries, refined black currant tang, cherry, licorice, spice; elegant tannin, modern style, voluptuous. $57
Last round: Wine. It’s what’s for dinner.