Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
I was opening a 2013 Cabernet and the cork broke. I pushed the remaining cork inside the bottle. It’s been lying there for two days. Is it safe to drink? And if so, for how long?
—Divyadeep, via Instagram
We’ve all been there. Sometimes corks just break or crack or crumble when you’re trying to open a bottle. If it’s still stuck in the neck, you can try to retrieve it, but sometimes the best option is just to push the rest of the cork into the bottle.
A piece of cork floating in the wine won’t cause any harm (after all, the wine has been touching the cork ever since it was bottled). But you might want to make sure you’re getting all the bits of cork out—they can be unpleasant if they end up in your mouth. You can use a sieve, or cheesecloth (one trick is to rubber band a piece of cheesecloth directly to the neck of the bottle). Or you can pour the wine into a decanter and hope that the bits of cork are left behind in the bottle. Be careful when pouring—sometimes the piece of cork can get lodged in the bottle neck and cause the wine to come out in spurts.
I would be worried, however, about a bottle of wine that has been sitting open for two days. The wine might start to fade or become oxidized after it’s been open for that long, floating cork or not. Once you open a bottle, do your best to limit its exposure to oxygen, and store it in the refrigerator to give it a longer life.