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Dear Dr. Vinny,
I have a bottle of 2000 California Chardonnay. I have had the bottle on display in an upright position since 2000. Is the wine still good since the cork would be dry after all these years?
—Nancy, Depew, N.Y.
There’s no way to tell for certain until you pop the cork and find out. “Pop the cork” is perhaps a bit optimistic in this case, as it’s likely the cork is pretty dry at this point and more prone to crumble or break than pop.
Even if the cork is dry, it doesn’t necessarily mean the wine has prematurely oxidized. How it fares depends on the quality of the cork and how humid an environment it’s been in. If the cork is working well, it will expand in the neck of the bottle. If it’s too dry, it will begin to let air inside, and you’ll know right away by the nutty, bruised-apple notes and brownish color of the wine.
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