How To Choose The Best Cork For Your Wine
Something all wine drinkers enjoy is the popping sound you hear when you remove the cork of a bottle of wine and anticipate the flavor experience you’re about to enjoy! You probably have never given much thought to the cork, but if it degrades, the wine will suffer from premature oxidization, a fancy term for too much air gets inside and ruins it. Wine bottles have been sealed with natural corks for hundreds of years and still are used in 70% of all bottles today. However, synthetics do have an advantage in some situations.
Now that you know more about the importance of the cork, how do you decide which one to use? The simple formula is to balance how long the wine will be in the bottle with how much you’re willing to spend to protect the wine inside. To help you with this decision, all corks are rated with the length in years of protection they provide. Natural cork provides 5 – 10 years, depending on the cork quality, while synthetics are good for one to five years. If you’re bottling a simple wine that will be consumed within two years, a synthetic is a great choice. For those vintages that you intend to have bottled for five or more years, natural cork is the logical way to go. Here are some more details about natural and synthetic corks to help you make a final decision.
The bark of mature cork oak trees, grown primarily in Spain and Portugal, is harvested every nine years to create a natural cork. The bark is dried and then boiled to soften and sterilize it. It is then shaped to fit into a wine bottle. The cork goes through another round of washing, cleaning and drying before it is sorted by quality and bagged for sale. A Grade 1 cork is the highest quality and also the most expensive. This is the one to use for a complex wine you plan to age for several years. Grade 2 and 3 corks are not as good quality, but they cost less and still give you the advantages of only allowing in a small amount of oxygen to mature the wine without ruining it.
If you use a hand corker to seal your bottles, natural cork is your best choice to use as they don’t have enough pressure capability to push an average synthetic cork into the wine bottle.
The synthetics are usually crafted from oil-based plastics, although some manufacturers are experimenting with plant-based options derived from sugar cane or corn. They are made in several densities to adjust the amount of air allowed in the bottle. Wine can be stored in an upright position because moisture isn’t needed to retain the seal. They are less expensive to use, but could add a chemical odor to the wine.
These types of corks are a mixture of natural and synthetic materials. They are generally pieces of cork combined with a synthetic binder and pressed into shape. Natural cork is often put on both ends with the filler material in the middle. They are dipped in wax and coated with silicone as the final steps before packaging. They are available in a smaller #8 size so they can be used with a hand corker.
Ready to order? Here at MoreBeer, we have several cork varieties for you to choose from. If you still have questions about finding the right cork for your bottles of wine, give us a call at 1-800-600-0033 or send us an email by clicking the “Contact Us” link at the bottom of the page. Our helpful experts are ready to assist you with any questions you have about the winemaking process.