Demystifying the Wine Cork

corksInformation is this article courtesy of  RJS Craft Winemaking.

How should you store wine corks? Which are the best type to use? Should corks be soaked before inserting?

No other part of winemaking seems to be shrouded in mystery more than humble wine cork. This article will cut through the lore and misinformation and will help demystify the cork.

How do I store my corks?

Corks can be kept in a plastic bag as long as all air pockets have been squeezed out and the bag is sealed. Storing the sealed bag inside of a pail with a closing lid ensures reduced air penetration and keeps the corks fresh and free from airborne particles. Corks stored in open containers are susceptible to all sorts of airborne matter.

Should corks be soaked prior to bottling?

There is no need to soak corks prior to bottling if they are stored correctly. The water used for soaking the corks could become contaminated by airborne bacteria or moulds. Boiling your corks prior to bottling could also melt off the silicone and paraffin coating that is meant to help with the cork/bottle seal.

Like to know more? Check out this Winemaker Mag article.

Which closure type is the best? Agglomerated cork, synthetic cork or screw cap?

It depends on the function that you would like to cork to do:

  • Agglomerated cork is great for 4 and 5 week wines that are intended to be enjoyed early and not aged.
  • Synthetic corks are great for 6 and 8 week wines which are intended to be aged. There is less chance of “corked” wine.
  • Screw caps are best for wine which are not intended to age as it allows little to no oxygen transfer which often helps with the aging process.

How do I know if a wine is “corked”?

Corked wine is the presence of a chemical compound called TCA (trichloroanisole) and is formed when natural fungi that resides within the natural or agglomerated cork comes in contact with a chloride style cleaner or other sanitation product. It is not harmful for human consumption, although it is not a pleasant experience. The smell and flavour are often described as Grandma’s musty basement or wet cardboard.

Can I use a cork in a screw cap bottle?

Screw cap bottles are designed specifically for screw caps. Corks are not recommended as a proper seal cannot be guaranteed. Screw cap bottle threads are designed for an effective seal with screw caps only.

 

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