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,
Is it a bad sign if a cork is loose? When I removed it there was a reddish tinge around the complete outside of the cork, and the wine didn't meet my expectations.
—Don, Naperville, Ill.
A loose cork is a bad sign. It indicates the cork didn't provide an adequate seal. The reddish tinge suggests the cork was also saturated with wine, which is another cause for concern. Sometimes a wine is still tasty with a loose or saturated cork, but it usually means something went wrong.
It could have been a faulty cork—either improperly sized, or it wasn’t as elastic as it was expected to be when it was compressed into the neck of the wine bottle.
The fact that the cork was saturated suggests that some wine may have leaked out, either due to a faulty cork, heat exposure or both.
Any time wine can escape a bottle, it also means that air can get in, causing premature oxidation, which might explain why the wine wasn’t showing its best.