bad cork can ruin even a superb wine. There are two reasons for a
cork to be 'bad'. The first, is totally out of our control - a chintzy
wine producer who decided not to make that extra investment in a good
And how much would that extra investment have cost?
No more than an extra penny or two per cork!
The second reason is certainly in our control - wine
storage. Wine bottles should be stored lying down, always. Whether
it be in our own personal wine cellars or wine racks and certainly
in the places where we purchase our wines. It's fine for a wine seller
to have a couple of bottles of wine standing upright for effect, but
before buying too many bottles, verify that the bottles had been stored
lying down. Better to buy one expensive bottle, open it, check the
cork, and then to return for more bottles if you enjoyed the wine.
It is a shame to invest in an expensive wine and be left with nothing
more than a very expensive vinegar.
are three types of corks: Real Corks - are made from
parts of the cork oak (Quercus suber) tree. Sheets from the tree are
stripped from the bark and then dried, bleached and treated against
bacteria. They are cut to size and shape and placed into the bottle.
Moisture, released by the
wine, causes the cork to swell thereby providing an airtight fit.
Without a real cork, wine will not age well. There is, however, one
caveat. A good wine, with a real cork, stored badly, will develop
a "corky" taste. And sometimes, for no good reason, the cork just
Reconstituted Corks - are made from
compressed cork chips and dust. They do not absorb moisture and do
not lend themselves well to sealing and storing wine. These corks
are appropriate for wines with a short shelf life. Some wines are
made to be aged, others are not. Vineyards can get away with these
corks in those bottles that should be enjoyed immediately after
Plastic Corks - are lots of fun
when you pop them, but they are the worst of wine corks. They are
very difficult to tug out of the bottle and have no value short of
keeping the wine in the bottle. Always be careful popping these corks.
They have a tendency to fly away from us and can injure anything from
the vase your aunt gave you as a gift, to your eyes.
And then there are Screw Tops. No wine worth drinking
is stored in a screw top bottle. These tops are reserved for
bubbly, tickle your nose, wine-like beverages. And they work wonderfully
with sweet kiddush wine and grape juice.
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