I recently opened a wine I thought might be corked. It didn’t bother me, but I threw it out. Did I do the right thing?
I’d say so. When you think a wine is corked, it probably is, assuming you know a bit about cork taint.
That unpleasant odour (and taste), variously described as mouldy basement, wet cardboard and gym locker, comes in degrees. It depends on how badly the wine has been contaminated by the polluted fungus in bad cork.
A wine can suffer even when you don’t sense the odour directly. This happens when the taint is below the human perception threshold but it leaves its mark in a smoking-gun sort of way – by muting the fruit in an otherwise tasty wine. In other cases, you may not pick up the odour initially and only notice halfway through your first glass (don’t fret, this happens to experts frequently).
There’s no health risk, so if you’d prefer not to waste the bottle and can tolerate a whiff of gym locker, be my guest. I, on the other hand, hate the odour and simply don’t like the idea of consuming tainted wine. But there’s a better solution than pouring it out. If you kept the receipt, take it to the store and try to get a refund – or at least a second opinion.