Cork presentation

The sommelier at the elegant restaurant deftly cuts the foil on the special bottle of wine she recommended, skillfully utilizes the double-hinged waiters corkscrew to extract the cork, and briskly removes the cork from the worm. In a flourish, she places the cork on the table or a small tray next to you.

Your turn to be part of the ritual. What do you do? The proper answer in a bit, but first some history.

Back in the day, the 1800s days, wine cellars were humid and cold and wine labels and glues perishable. Wine makers began to brand their corks to reassure consumers they were getting what they paid for if the paper label had deteriorated or an unscrupulous merchant was pawning off plonk as premium.

That was then, this is now, but the protocol remains. Today, the somm will present the bottle to verify it is what you ordered. She will go through the uncorking ritual, pour a slight amount for you to taste to ensure the wine is satisfactory. The cork is there to demonstrate the cork branding matches the label. It is exceedingly unlikely it will not.

So what do you do with the cork? You can save it for sentimental reasons if this is a special occasion, but the standard response is simple: do not do anything. Don’t smell it, don’t carefully examine it, don’t taste it. Ask the somm to take it away. Finally, something really simple about wine.

Tasting notes:

• Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc New Zealand Marlborough 2014: Commodity New Zealand sauvignon blanc that will complement many foods. $12-15 Link to my review

• The Last Wine Company The Walking Dead Cabernet Sauvignon 2016: Competes in Apothic popular premium category; rich, full flavors; loads of fruity sweetness; noticeable oak. $14-19 Link to my review

• Elena Walch Schiava Alto Adige DOC 2016: Light, nimble; drinks like expensive pinot noir at a fraction of an expensive pinot noir price. $15-16 Link to my review

• Cooper Mountain Vineyards Chardonnay 2016: Clean, clear expression of chardonnay without oak and butter clutter. Vegan friendly. $18-20 Link to my review

• Castello di Albola Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2013: Rich, full, balanced, classic chianti riserva that skillfully expresses Chianti Classico terroir. $25-30 Link to my review

• E. Guigal Saint-Joseph Rouge 2015: Engaging winner from E. Guigal, wine magicians of the northern Rhône. $33 Link to my review

Last round: I am that friend who would never steal a dime from you, but if you leave the room I will finish off the bottle of wine we are sharing.