Ha ha ha, what a interesting myth...
When a waiter presents you with your wine selection, it is often thought that it is a good time to smell the cork. Well, it is not wrong to do so as you can smell a few things on the cork such as a stale cork.
Hmmm, I would suggest that you feel the cork and notice if it is warm or cool, wet or dry, hard or soft. By feeling the cork can tell you whether the wine has been properly stored or at least hint a few clues to you.
The cork should be flexible, elastic, soft enough to be compressible and hard enough to hold together. Older wines will show some age on the cork. The “fill” line on the wine should be pretty close to the bottom of the cork. Hopefully the wine bottle has been kept in good storage to reduce evaporation.
If all these factors look good, just smell the wine and seek fresh aromas. If it is an older wine, the aromas may be more aged. However, we should never accept a wine that has any off aromas or stale characters. While some older wines may need a moment to wake up and really show their true selves, they should never smell dead, dried or stale. Stay alert for wet cardboard, wet
cork and musty-dusty aromas as this wine may be “corked”.
If this happens, the restaurant should replace the wine for a fresh bottle. You are encouraged to ask for a new one although this may not the fault of the restaurant, the winery or anyone specific. It may just be the cork and small little bacteria that made it through endless controls designed to eliminate bacteria which is a hard task.