Put A (Wine) Cork In It!

 Put A (Wine) Cork In It!

Wine closures used to be all cork, all the time. But up to 10% of wine that has cork closure is tainted. That’s a bottle (or two) per case! I don’t want to take that risk with my precious juice. Here are some facts to assist you in protecting your investment in wine.

Cork Was King

Historically, corks have been used to seal wine. But cork can cause all kinds of problems in a bottle of wine. A cork can shrink due to temperature and allow wine to leak. It can dry out and easily break during extraction. The biggest issue with the classic cork is when it is infected with TCA, which causes the wine to smell like a musty basement or wet newspaper. This bacteria is price insensitive—wines in all price ranges can be contaminated, or "corked."

A Revolution Was Mounted

Innovators have introduced different closures: screw cap, synthetic corks and even glass closures to protect their wine from the bacteria responsible for “corked wine.” Traditionalists have been stubborn in turning to these alternatives and frankly, I was in the traditional camp for a while. But realized I’d rather be modern and be certain that my wine is what the producer intended.

Misleading Notions Exposed

There are misconceived prejudices regarding non-cork finishes that should be cleared up. Some believe synthetic or screw cap closures equate to “cheap wine.” But one of the first prominent Napa wineries to offer cork and alternative closures charged $10 more for the later bottling! A second myth: Since cork allows air into the bottle, thit is the only appropriate closure for wines bought to age. Well, studies have shown that the air between the wine and the closure is ample for aging purposes. And the notion that you don’t need to taste the wine during the restaurant wine ritual is misleading too. A small percentage of non-cork closed wines are still corked, due to that pesky TCA hiding in barrels. Besides, looking for corked wine is not the only reason to taste the wine before accepting it.

Traditions Are Changing

Now that you’re “in the know,” notice how many wines are finished with alternative closures. Soon this will be the norm. Less wine will be flawed and I can save money when planning my parties…I won’t have to stock backup wine in case bottles are corked!

Tell us in the comments: When have you turned from traditionalist to revolutionary?

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