Have you ever opened a bottle of wine and wondered why the cork contains branding?
You’ve ordered a bottle of wine. The waiter opens the bottle, which may have spent years in the wine cellar. Maybe the label has become illegible or it may not even be on the bottle anymore. He holds up the cork and gives it to you.
It is not meant for you to smell it. By looking at the branding on the label of the cork you are able to authenticate the wine as the real deal. Of course, it also helps in cases were sellers are dishonest and relabel wines – it is much harder to replace the cork than the label on the bottle itself.
While improvements have been made to the printing and adhesion process of labels, as well as putting identifying information directly on the bottle, most vineyards hold on to the tradition. Of course, the gradual acceptance of screw-caps even for high quality wines means this once highly useful 2-step authentication is slowly fading away.