7 November 2005 - What can a cork tell you?
Not much. The cork in the photo came from a bottle of Chateau de Fonsalette Cotes du Rhone Cepage Syrah 1983. This was a bottle out of my basement -- it had been through four moves, never stored particularly well, basically knocked around for about twenty years.
Looks like hell, doesn't it? The cork was covered with mold on the end, soaked through, and broke on the way out of the bottle. Scary. So, how was the wine?
Extremely dark red, intensely roasted black fruit/herb/mineral/black earth smells and firm, snappy flavors that softened a bit with some air. Not a hint of oxidation -- in fact, the only complaint I had about the wine is that it's only marginally more accessible than it was twenty years ago.
In other words, the condition of the cork was meaningless. It usually is. Smell and taste the wine, leave the cork on the table, write a little message on it for your lover if it's a special occasion. Just don't let it cloud your judgement of the wine in the bottle!