Sunday, February 17, 2013

Corks and Others

Those crazies and their corks, I never considered myself among them, but as I couldn't help but notice the differences in cork enclosures, I had to share a couple of observations, as boring as that may be.
First, I noticed that great wines had longer corks (coincidence?), and I'm supposing that they are a better-grade of cork as well; yes, there is bad, fair, good, better, and best corks, as is there to everything (I humbly hope this blog makes the grade to fair).
For those who have a modicum of interest in the subject, corks cost money; yes, you pay for them, and a great one can cost close to one dollar depending on source and quantity purchased; maybe Groth will let us know what it cost them to profoundly seal their Reserve Cabernet!

My second thought is that people who love wine are like people who love cars, music, or anything; so, whether you like the ease of a screw-cap, the tradition of hearing the "pop" of a cork, or the glamour of a glass enclosure, none of this should lead us to being judgmental, an over-ripe condition I find too often in vintners and wine enthusiasts. "Why can't we just get along?"

I met a man at Market basket on Saturday, he so impressed me with his straight-forward approach to wine: "Wine can be simple, white or red, sweet or dry, and how much do I want to pay for it?" Too often we worry about decanting or how old the wine is, and though there is a place for things like this, ask yourself: in a blind tasting do you ask if the wines have been decanted?
Sometime,  try to just grab a bottle of wine, maybe you might not even look at what it is, and experience the wine from opening to disappearing, how it evolves in the glass without preconceived notions. Forget the pedigree and enjoy the reality of the moment; this is something I find in newbie wine-tasters (a fresh perspective); here there is no place for smug, snobbish, and sophomoric superiority.
That's my pennies-worth for today.

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David Boyer, Class of 1855, has some insight into wine and its relationship to oxygen and the proper aging of wine. 
"Aging wine in bottles only differs in that topping up does not occur again (unless a special old bottle is taken to the winery for the sake of preservation, a very rare occasion). In the bottle molecules of oxygen reach the wine by moving up in molecular sized spaces between the cork and the neck of the glass bottle. Again, this is a good thing and it is how wine evolves with age."

I doubt that a screw-cap allows any external oxygen to effect the wine, but if anyone has a thought on this, like many (maybe most) wines are not meant to be aged at all or very little, so in that case a screw-cap seems to make sense, chime-in.



  1. One thing I have noticed about size and grade of cork: all are susceptible to taint.

    I've had tainted $5 Spanish wines with 1.5" corks as well as a corked bottle of '94 Pine Ridge Andrus with one of those beautiful 2 1/4" corks.

    Had a few corked bottles so far come through the distributorship - a bottle of Dunning Cabernet, a bottle of Queen of Hearts Chardonnay and a sample bottle of Idle Cellars Merlot.

    As you may have guessed, the ugawino is a huge advocate of screw caps and glass stoppers.

    1. Bill, it appears that you are in good company: James Laube in April's WS agrees that ALL wine ("eliminate corks entirely"),should have a "Twist-cap", but that still doesn't address the issue of molecular oxidization. He seems to imply that after ten years most corks are no good; makes me wonder how, in the past, a thirty year-old Bordeaux could fetch ten cents. So, I can see this banter will continue.

  2. Hi Bill, I must admit that I forgot your closure advocacy. John recently recommended screw-caps for less expensive wines. Not being an expert on the subject, I have no opinion, only observations, but I have heard that a controlled miniscule amount of oxidization was necessary for the proper aging of some wines. Maybe someone who understands that process may comment?
    As far as PRESERVING wine, screw caps have been proven to be the best closure.
    Being that corks are a reality, and all corks can fail, I would guess that the longer the cork, given that all other variables are the same, the less spoilage. Also, I'd guess that screw-caps make it more difficult to determine if a wine is cooked.
    At any rate, I'm glad to hear from you, and I look for your posts (now they are far and few. . .) and your informed comments.

  3. Not boring at all, in fact this is right up my alley. (I admit to being a train-spotter now and again!)

    1. Vinogirl, as a trained spotter you look for?

    2. Groth Reserve cork is 60 mm long and they cost $2.10 each. Their regular cork is $0.50 and the Nomacork in their Sauvignon blanc is $0.12.
      Thank you Vinogirl!

  4. Replies
    1. Vinogirl/Vonderwomen, what have you found (will you tell) that caused you to cull.