Originally posted by chaad:
I disagree with all of the opinions above.
Except Doublestop's, which is eminently rational.
Corks crumble almost exclusively due to the structure of their grain. Even the highest grade corks can have undetected anomolies that cause crumbling, but I associate crumbling most commonly with low grade corks.
I have never seen a cork fail because it was "dried out."
I will disagree with you here...since there are many reasons that a cork could crumble (heat, humidity, other poor storage conditions, wine standing up, poor cork composition, etc.), without doing scientific forensics on the cork there is no way of telling why. It is all speculation.
By the way, I have had a 1989 Dunn HM that was wax sealed and the wax was dried out, as hard as cement and the cork was dry and crumbly. The wine was not totally bad but you could tell it was off. Now by the condition of the wax, I would not attribute the crumbly cork to poor cork composition. And Randy Dunn is NOT known for cutting corners.
As was stated, if it crumbles, pull it out the best you can and taste the wine for yourself to determine the quality of the wine.