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Collecting Q&A: What Does Cork Leakage Mean?

Peter D. Meltzer
Posted: May 24, 2007

Q: I've got a bottle of Cheval-Blanc 1982. Last year, a drop of wine leaked from the cork. I checked the bottle, but level of wine is still into the neck and the color is still good. Everything seems OK, but what do you think about this problem?—Alessandro Conservati, Reggio-Emilia, Italy

A: Seepage is usually a sign that a wine has been exposed to excessive heat at some point in time between its bottling and cellaring. Another sign is that the cork of the wine may be pushed up slightly past the mouth of the bottle. Do you have a temperature- and humidity-controlled cellar? If not, and if you own precious bottles like Château Cheval-Blanc, you should invest in one. There is also the remote possibility that the wine was overfilled in bottling, but it is unlikely that the resultant seepage would occur 25 years later. A dried out cork might also be the cause. Examine other bottles in your collection to determine whether they have been affected. I would drink this bottle relatively soon, to avoid disappointment in the future.

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