I seem to have a cork failure disease.
I made 30 gals of extreme elderberry wine ten years ago.
I still have more than a case left.
It was designed for maxed-out alchohol, I got that and
extreme bouquet, and very sweet, with high natural tannins.
Excellent for a sweet!
Storage has been at room temps, mostly horizontal, but
some vertical time, and some temps occasionally over 85F
due to lifestyle irregularities.
I opened a bottle last night.
I chose that bottle cuz the cork was half stained, figured
now or never. The stained part was damp and crumbly,
and almost spongy, it was not a surface stain.
The wine seemed like it had deriorated. It had lost
that extreme bouquet and fruitiness, thus some complexity
as the tannins and earthyness took the front seat.
It had become a good junkyard wine. ...OK in that context,
it seems twice as potent as whiskey on the rocks, my
The color was garnet, but I seem to remember ruby.
If so, that suggests oxidation.
Many of the corks are showing those symptoms. Half?
They seemed fine a year ago, the wine too.
I have no idea why, I've never heard of this before.
The sugar? The hi-alchohol? Contamination?
Is this a common bug? How to prevent?
Corks deteriorate over time, so what you see if pretty natural,
especially if you used regular quality corks. All red wines will turn
garent at some point if allowed to age that long and tannins will
mellow - again, that's just a natural progression. If the wine in the
bottles with corks that look ok tastes significantly better, you might
want to consider recorking those bottles - assuming all the corks came
from the same batchm the "good ones" won't probably last much longer.
On Tue, 13 Nov 2007, pp said about:
Re: Aging Corks Fail ??
I wonder if in the future I waxed the corks or
went to synthetic, or...?
Sometimes I hear of 100+ year-old fine wines.
What's up with that? I thought that was typical?
100 year old wine will taste kinda flat, too. Just not 'spoiled'.
The quality of cork we get nowadays is inferior to that of just 25 years
ago. We used up much of the good stuff, and they try to grow the bark
too fast these days by using lotsa water and nutrients. The cork grown
this way isn't as dense as naturally grown cork.
No cork lasts more than 20 years, older fine wines are re-corked and
use 2 inch corks of highest quality. No synthetic manufacturer
recommends more than 3 years from what I have seen on their websites.
Loss of fruit is a natural consequence of age also.
Cork seepage can be caused by a lot of things, usually upward
temperature excursions. If they feel crumbly at all you should swap
them now; swap all the leakers regardless and maybe touch up to SO2.
Ugh. You guys are getting medieval on me.
Thanks for all the ideas.
I did a test on waxing cork with red candel wax.
By heating BOTH cork and wax well above melting point
I had expected perhaps a millimeter of penitration
like soft wood. Nope, no visible penitration, but
I got good bonding with the waxy feel impossible to
scrape off. Unexpectedly, the wax was drawn into
and sealed the hairline fractures caused by the
corkscrew, at least 1/4 inch deep. (I used binoculars
as a microscope.)
Thoughts on that? Possibilities maybe?
Here's more thoughts from the web.
Cork (material) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Corks. Corks. A cork stopper for a wine bottle. A cork stopper
for a wine ... Cork demand has increased due to more wine being
sealed with cork rather than ...
(material) - 26k -
Cork taint - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Cork taint is a broad term referring to a set of undesirable
smells or tastes found in a bottle of wine, especially spoilage
that can only be detected after ...
- 32k - ---------
Champagne (wine) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Prior to insertion, a sparkling wine cork is almost 50% larger
than the opening of the bottle. Originally they start as a
cylinder and are compressed prior ...
(wine) - 93k -
Cork Oak - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The European cork industry produces 340000 tonnes of cork a year,
with a value of €1.5 billion and employing 30000 people. Wine
corks represent 15% of cork ...
- 25k - ---------
Alternative wine closures - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Alternative wine closures are substitutes used in the wine
industry for sealing wine bottles in place of traditional cork
closures. ...A 2007 study by Victor Segalen Bordeaux 2 University
showed that synthetic cork allowed the highest levels of oxygen
permeation in when compared to natural cork and screw caps,...
Screw caps form a tighter seal and can keep out oxygen for a
longer time than cork. These benefits aid in maintaining the
wine's overall quality and aging potential....
"consumers still perceive screwcaps as being for ‘cheap’ wines
(regardless of the price tag)."...
European market (under the name Vino-Lok) in 2003, over
300 wineries have utilized Vino-Seal. Using a glass stopper with
an inert o-ring, the Vino-Seal creates a hermetic seal that
prevents oxidation and TCA contamination. A disadvantage with the
Vino-Seal is the relatively high cost of each plug (70 cents
each) and cost of manual bottling....
...with protection against TCA similar to a screw cap.
Made from recyclable food grade polymers, Zork can be removed
without the aid of additional tools and can be easily resealed.
... crown caps provide a tight seal without risking cork-taint
. Although easier to open, crown caps eliminate part of the
ceremony and mystique of opening a sparkling wine.
There is continuing opposition to the use of
alternative closures in some parts of the winemaking industry. In
March 2006, the Spanish government outlawed the use of
alternative wine closures in 11 of Spain's wine producing regions
as part of their (Denominacion de Origen) D.O. regulations. 
33k - ---------
Wine fault - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Cork taint is a wine fault mostly attributed to the compound
2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA), although other compounds such as
guaiacol, geosmin, ... Anthocyanins, catechins, epicatechins and
other phenols present in wine are those most easily oxidised ,
which leads to a loss of colour, flavour and aroma - sometimes
referred to as flattening.
- 62k - ---------
Stelvin cap - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A metal screw-cap developed by the Alcan Packaging company to
replace wine corks to reduce the occurrence of cork tainting. It
also incorporates a small ventilation system to allow tiny
amounts of air into the wine bottle to aid the wine maturation.
The reluctance over the adoption of this cap seems to be the
brand degradation caused by using a screw-cap on a wine.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stelvin_cap - 15k - Cached - Similar pages
Bottle opener - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
More generally, it might be thought to include corkscrews used to
remove cork or plastic stoppers from wine bottles. Another name
for some types of bottle ...
- 30k - ---------
Wine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Most wines are sold in glass bottles and are sealed using a cork.
Recently a growing number of wine producers have begun sealing
their product with ...
- 149k - ---------
Screwcap - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A screwcap is a type of alternative wine closure that is gaining
increasing support as an alternative to cork for sealing wine
bottles. ... Traditionally associated in the US with extremely
inexpensive jug wines or even "skid row" wines, the screwcap is
making a comeback due to concern about premature (or sporadic)
oxidation and cork taint. Screwcaps have a much lower failure
rate than cork, and in theory will allow a wine to reach the
customer in perfect condition, with a minimum of bottle
variation. Cork, of course, has a centuries-old tradition behind
it, and there are also concerns about the impact of screwcaps on
the aging of those few wines that require decades to be at their
Some argue that the slow ingress of oxygen plays a vital
role in aging a wine, while others argue that this amount is
almost zero in a sound cork and that any admitted oxygen is
harmful. Various studies are underway,
- 18k - ---------
Glossary of wine terms - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Fighting varietal: A term that originated in California during
the mid 1980s to refer to any inexpensive cork-finished varietal
wine in a 1.5 liter bottle. ...
- 90k -
Bottle variation is the degree to which different bottles,
nominally of the same wine, taste and smell different.
Bottles stored together their entire lives, with no obvious
faults, can taste completely different. Thus there is a saying,
"There are no great old wines, only great bottles."
A cork compresses and releases, I don't think wax is going to do
that. If I were you I would just replace all the corks with fresh
ones. I use Nomacorc now and like them. That will get you a few more
years. You will know which ones are going south too. I think your
problem is mostly normal deterioration of an average cork. The
leakers need attention of some sort even if it's just 'drink them
Joe Sallustio said about:
Re: Aging Corks Fail ??
From what I saw that won't be a problem cuz very little is
absorbed beyond the surface. But good point, I'll test
for flexibility first. Another concern is heat damage.
In my test I used max-heat to insure wetting. The cork
actually fizzed, but it had high water content, so...?
The name is derived from the Latin parum (= barely) + affinis
with the meaning here of "lacking affinity", or "lacking
Paraffin wax is mostly found as a white, odorless, tasteless,
waxy solid, with a typical melting point between about 47 °C and
64 °C (116F -147F). [Flash point 180°C, 356 degrees Fahrenheit
-- boiling point is about 370°C, 700°F)
Beeswax is slightly soluble in cold alcohol, is a mixture
of substances. Seems unpredictable. Possible anti-bacterial.
My bad cork, where the normal dark streaks and spots (grain?)
are, had been hollowed out facilitating further wine penetration.
These "tunnels" had sucked up the wax more than 1/4 inch deep.
I'm guessing, and more tests might show, that those are
originally more porous, natural weak links. If they are
originally more porous, they would absorb more wax, yielding
a more uniform cork; absorption-wise.
In my opinion, what I'm going thru now is utterly not tolerable.
If I do use cork again, I'm certain I'll wax them with paraffin.
To hell with flintlock technology. Screwcaps sound even better.
Thanks. I know you are right.
But I don't feel like partying.
The problem you are seeing is one of the reasons I use synthetics
There is a very cool new closure out now but the people who make it
(Alcoa) only work through a distributor who wants to sell millions at
a time to wineries. It's basically a glass stopper with a viton
seal. You can find them on Alsatian wines right now, other may use
them too. They are expensive but seem to solve all the problems with
closures. It's a very cool closure and it goes in like any stopper,
no tools needed.
Here is a link:
The next time you cork new wine, consider bottling
wax. I can't say if you will get more life or
not but I have been using it for about four years
now and if nothing else - it looks nice.
Just take a sauce pan or similar container and
SLOWLY heat the wax and then just dip the corked
bottles in to the depth of the neck you want. If
you heat the wax too hot, you will have a tough
time getting it off the bottles when you try to
recycle them for your next batch. If done at the
right temperature, all you have to do is slip a
knife blade between the wax and bottle and remove
it and store it for reuse.
I have read some studies that indicate air tight
closures are good for whites and reds that are
not aged very long but for long term storage, air
tight closures result in reductive reactions
taking place in bottle which destroy the wine
Yeah, but as you mentioned, Joe, those are not meant for long-term
aging and screwcaps are not available to home winemakers, so corks are
really the only option for wines aged 10 years. Or crown caps but
there the issue is they don't fit on regular wine bottles.
Please forgive my ignorance, but why aren't synthetics any good for
long term aging? And could y ou explain what you class as long
I thought they'd be great for that. Are they not inert with a slight
permeability (less than cork but better than glass)?
I am disappointed to hear that as I bought hi q synthetic corks to use
for maturation of my high alcohol rice wines and others. I just
couldnt afford the very best cork in the quantity I needed and figured
these would be a better choice.
Many thanks, Jim
Well, long-term definition depends to some extent on the winemaker.
The dicussion here was done in the context of the OP, where we were
talking about 10 year old wine, certainly long-term. Anything after 5
years would qualify as long-term in my books.
As for synthetics, there are studies that show they don't fare well
past 3 years or so. I might not have the latest info, but the reason
for this was that wine under synthetics loses SO2 faster than under
any closures, So if the wine's bottled with normal SO2 levels, it
doesn't last well past the 3 year mark or so. I don't use synthetics
so don't know more than that, I'm sure somebody else can supply more
Yeah, I know there are bottles out there that take crown caps, it's
just hard to get them in quantities I need every year, I don't drink
that much cider or sparkling wine... I though about beer bottles for a
bit but don't like the look.
During the production of many champagnes/sparkling wines, the bottles
are capped with crown bottle caps. It is only after disgorging that
they put in a cork.
Champagne Wine Bottles - 750ml - GREEN - 12 per case
These are thick walled, HEAVY, high quality champagne bottle. 750ml and
green in color. Will accept #7, #8 or #9 corks along with plastic or
natural champaigne corks and wires. A floor corker is highly
recommended. Can also accept a crown cap for those who like to ''cork
and cap'' their special champagne type brews. Bottle bottoms may be
flat, punted or push-up. Price is per case of 12 bottles
I found a very good discussion here on 750 ml crown cap bottles:
One person said the European champagne bottles take a different size
cap, but that the American sparkling wine bottle take regular crown
caps. Another recommended taking a regular crown cap with you when you
shop for such bottles to make sure they take the normal crown cap and
not a special size one.
One more good point to consider is how long the crown cap provides an
"We recommend holding the 750ml bottles no longer than three years and
the 187ml for two years. The crown cap closure is secure, but the
carbonation will begin to dissipate with age."
It appears those crown capped bottles do have the ability to
micro-oxygenate/bottle age wines