Corking wine might be the last stage of the wine-making process, but it is certainly one of the most important.
For the longest time, the absence of a natural cork crowning a wine bottle was understood as a sign that the wine was of low-quality. However, recent research has indicated that natural corks could be tainting precious wine, encouraging manufacturers to look elsewhere. What covers a wine, and the precise way in which it does so can act as a huge factor in the final taste and aroma of the wine. Besides choosing from a wide variety of corks, one also needs to consider other issues, such as deciding on the appropriate bottle size, the right corker to use, any treatments corks might need, the color of the bottles, etc.
Thankfully, this article is about to cover all of these topics. To find out how to cork your wine efficiently, grab a sip of your favorite wine and enjoy this read!
What Do I Need to Cork Wine?
Three things: a glass bottle, a cork (or another cap), and a corker.
The multiplicity of choices available in all three products can be dizzying, but this guide will help you make the right choices for your wine.
1. Choosing a Glass Bottle
Depending on what type of wine you are looking to cork, the correct choice of glass bottles for you can vary significantly. Traditional red or white wine can be bottled using the standard Bordeaux wine bottles. These bottles usually have a volume of 750ml, and have an opening of about 3/4ths of an inch. However, if you are bottling a sparkling wine like champagne, those have their own standard sized bottles.
Another factor to consider before purchasing bottles is the colour of the glass. White wines can be stored in green or transparent bottles, whereas red wines need darker tints to protect them from the suns ultraviolet rays.
In general, all wine must be stored in dark environments to prevent them from aging too quickly. Champagne bottles are particularly vulnerable to UV rays, so exercise caution accordingly.
2. Choosing the Right Cork for You
Here is where things can get slightly tricky.
Choosing the wrong cork can lead to uneven oxidation, causing undesired aromas and a musty, papery taste. Some corks might also need to be treated in specific ways before corking. One needs to consider two factors before purchasing corks, its shape and material.
The first, and classic choice is the natural cork. These corks have been harvested for sealing food and drinks since Ancient Greece, and are made from a particular type of oak that is mainly found in Portugal. Due to its long history of usage, natural corks are the safest option if you plan on aging your wine for a long period. The other entries on this list have become popular only recently, and so their effect on wine over the long term is yet indeterminate. However, natural corks are susceptible to something called “cork taint”. This is when a chemical called TCA forms around the rim of the cork, giving tainted wine its papery taste.
Besides natural corks, one can also choose between synthetic and technical corks. Both these corks eliminate the risk of TCA, and are more durable than natural corks. However, as mentioned, the effect of long term aging on these corks is yet established, and is still a risk to be considered. In the short term, synthetic corks give manufacturers the advantage that, unlike other corks, one can estimate the rate of oxidation far more accurately. This makes aging young wines easier.
If you don’t have a preference for corks, you could also choose a screw cap, or a glass stopper. Screw caps don’t share the problem of technical/synthetic corks in that they can be used for long term aging. They are also guaranteed to stay free of TCA. Glass stoppers, though primarily used in Germany and Austria, are an elegant choice for short term aging as well. However, they tend to be quite heavy, and can cost a fortune.
3. Choosing a Corker
This is the last step of the process before storage. The way corkers work is that they compress the cork from all sides to push them inside bottles. The right choice for you mainly depends on how many bottles you intend to cork.
There are three types of corkers you can buy: manual, freestanding, and electric. If you have a whole batch of bottles, the freestanding corker is the best choice due to its ease of use. Manual corkers are cheaper, and meant to be used for smaller-scale corking. While electric ones are the easiest to use, manufacturers generally prefer either of the former two.
Corking wine is as important a part of producing wine as any of the other steps. One needs to match their corking procedure, and their wine with utmost care to ensure the liquid retains its intended taste and aroma. For long term aging, avoid risks and go for a natural cork and a standard bottle. For younger wines, the possibilities are endless, so feel free to experiment with different combinations and see which fits you best.
Now that you know how to cork and uncork wine correctly, with the right tools, you should be able to enjoy a great bottle of red (or white) wine easily! Before you go ahead and grab these tools you need, sign up for a FREE 1-month trial to Amazon Prime. Here at Wine On My Time we were able to get sponsored by Amazon in order to provide our readers with the best content about wine.
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