Log In / Join Now

Ask Dr. Vinny



Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...

Dear Dr. Vinny,

I found a pink cork in a bottle of white Zinfandel! Is that normal?

—Joan, Perkasie, Pa.

Dear Joan,

It’s not strange for the edge of a natural cork that’s in contact with wine to become stained. In my experience, darker wines with more pigment will leave a darker stain, so it's not unlikely that a rosé-style wine like a white Zinfandel would leave a pink stain.

But it is definitely unusual for an entire cork to be stained the color of the wine, or for the cork to be saturated with wine. If a cork is entirely stained—and especially if it’s soggy—it can be a sign that the cork did not have a good seal, and that can be a problem. If wine can get past the cork and the bottle is leaky, that means that air could possibly get into the bottle, causing it to become oxidized. It can also be a sign that the wine was exposed to heat.

And since it's not quite clear that you mean that the cork was stained pink by the wine, I should point out that synthetic corks—those plastic polymer– or bioplastic-based cork alternatives—come in just about every color of the rainbow. Some wineries have occasionally bottled wines with special limited-edition pink corks in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Sutter Home White Zinfandel has been bottled with a pink synthetic cork since 2001.

No matter what the reason for your pink cork, you really don’t know if something is amiss with the wine until you open the bottle and taste it.

—Dr. Vinny

Wine Basics

We break down the basics—how to taste, serve, store and more. Plus:
» Maps of major wine regions
» Grape variety characteristics

How-to Videos

Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more

Wine Spectator School: All courses are FREE for WineSpectator.com Members

Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.

Browse our course catalog
Check out the professional wine sales and service courses
Learn Wine Forum: Got questions? Get answers


WineRatings+ app: Download now for 365,000+ ratings.