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Dear Dr. Vinny,
You’ve answered in the past that a wet cork is good, but what about when there is moisture on the bottle’s neck, too?
—Ellen E., Chicago
I’m assuming you mean on the outside of the bottle, right? Because if you have a bottle lying on its side, with the cork moist to keep it from drying out and letting air in, the inside of the neck should be wet with wine.
If there is moisture on the outside of the neck of a wine bottle, hopefully it’s not wine. If it is wine, it could mean that the seal of the bottle has been compromised and some wine escaped the bottle. If wine can get out, that means you have a leaky bottle, and air is probably getting in, causing your wine to prematurely age. I’ve also seen leaky bottles resulting from exposure to heat, which caused the wine inside to expand and leak out.
But if the moisture you’re referring to just looks like water, that’s totally harmless, good old-fashioned condensation. When you take a bottle of wine from a cool environment (like a cellar, wine cooler or refrigerator) and move it to a warmer climate (like room temperature), the moisture vapor in the air will condense. I’ve even had condensation appear on the top of a cork after I remove the wine capsule.
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