This is molecular gastronomy at its most useful.
A couple of weeks ago, I read about a trick for repairing corked wine. It was in a Harold McGee column for the New York Times. One of McGee's sources was Andrew Waterhouse, a professor of wine chemistry at UC Davis.
McGee had been experimenting with pennies and knife tips and magnets and who knows what-all in his attempts to improve wine. Kick start it into drinkable. Speed aeration. Even speed aging. (Hint: Warm closet.)
But corked wine? That hideous gym shoe flavor that renders the entire bottle undrinkable; $30 down the drain; dammit. That's fixable?
I know I should just take bad bottles back to the store for a refund, but we shop in the sort of un-pricey category, and it would look chintzy of us to traipse into the market with an open bottle of smelly wine. "I want my cheap money back."
The ugly corked odor and taste come from infected corks. The infection is 2,4,6-trichloroanisole, says Mr. Waterhouse, which is chemically similar to polyethylene. Kitchen wrap. Plastic film. Yeeks.
The trick is to pour the cruddy wine into a bowl with a sheet of Glad Wrap for only a few minutes. The naughty molecules stick to the film. Right away. OMG. Science.
Just a few days after I read about this trick, Cranky opened a corked bottle of sherry. Would it work?
I warn you, I am a very sensitive taster.
Verdict: It worked. We resurrected a whole bottle of cruddy sherry with a lab experiment.
P.S.: Rinse the bottle out before you refill it. And throw away the rotten cork.