Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
I opened the foil wrap around the cork of a bottle of wine and didn’t even open the cork when I noticed the wine bottle beneath the foil was slightly wet, as if some wine spilled out from the cork, or as if some kind of liquid from somewhere got in. Do you know how this happened? The rest of the bottle was dry, as were my hands. Is it safe to drink? I left the cork in the bottle and put it in the fridge.
—Ana, Miami Beach, Fla.
If the liquid underneath the capsule looked like water, it was probably just condensation, which happens when a bottle goes from a cooler environment into a warmer one. A tight capsule can trap the moisture vapor in the air and keep it under there, only to be revealed when it’s unwrapped.
If the liquid under the capsule looked like wine, it’s a little more concerning, because the cork may have been compromised and some wine leaked out. This can happen from a faulty cork or from exposure to heat. Sometimes the wine inside will still taste fine, but sometimes it will take on prematurely mature, cooked or baked characteristics—though even so, I’m sure the wine is perfectly safe to drink.
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