Smelling the Cork

You order wine in a restaurant and the waiter puts the cork down beside you. you are supposed to:
1. Smell it?
2. Feel it?
3. Glance at it, then ignore it?
The answer is number 3. The practice of placing the cork on the table dates from the eighteenth century when wineries began branding corks to prevent unscrupulous restauranteurs from filling an empty bottle of Chateau Expensive with inferior wine, recording it, then reselling it as Chateau Expensive.
In honest restaurants, the cork was placed on the table so the diner could see that the name on it matched that on the label, a guarantee that the wine had not been tampered with.
Admittedly, feeling the cork tells you if the wine was stored on its side and that can be a clue to its soundness. But a moist cork is no guarantee that the wine is in good conditions; Similarly, a dry cork does not necessarily portend a wine gone awry.

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