Aging Corks Fail ??


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 normal drink. 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?
Thanks! --Doug
Reply to
Doug Bashford
> 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 > normal drink. > 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? > > Thanks! > --Doug
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.
Pp
Reply to
pp
On Tue, 13 Nov 2007, pp said about: Re: Aging Corks Fail ?? ....... > > Is this a common bug? How to prevent? > > > > Thanks! > > --Doug > > 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. > > Pp
Thanks!
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?
--Doug
Reply to
Doug Bashford
> On Tue, 13 Nov 2007, pp said about: > Re: Aging Corks Fail ?? > > > ....... > >>> Is this a common bug? How to prevent? >>> >>> Thanks! >>> --Doug >> 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. >> >> Pp > > Thanks! > > 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? > > --Doug > > > 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.
Gene
Reply to
gene

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.
Joe
Reply to
Joe Sallustio
> 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. Your thoughts?
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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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. [18]
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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 [1], which leads to a loss of colour, flavour and aroma - sometimes referred to as flattening.
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 best. 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,
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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. ...
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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."
Reply to
Doug Bashford

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 now'... :)
Joe
Reply to
Joe Sallustio
Joe Sallustio said about: Re: Aging Corks Fail ?? > A cork compresses and releases, I don't think wax is going to do > that. 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...? Paraffin The name is derived from the Latin parum (= barely) + affinis with the meaning here of "lacking affinity", or "lacking reactivity". Paraffin wax 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. > 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 > now'... :)
Thanks. I know you are right. But I don't feel like partying. --Doug
Reply to
Doug Bashford

The problem you are seeing is one of the reasons I use synthetics now. :0)
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:
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=946962.html
Joe
Reply to
Joe Sallustio
> > Joe Sallustio said about: > Re: Aging Corks Fail ?? > > >> A cork compresses and releases, I don't think >> wax is going to do that. > > 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...? > > Paraffin > The name is derived from the Latin parum (= > barely) + affinis with the meaning here of > "lacking affinity", or "lacking reactivity". > Paraffin wax > 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. > > >> 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 >> now'... :) > > Thanks. I know you are right. > But I don't feel like partying. > --Doug
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.
Reply to
Paul E. Lehmann
> The problem you are seeing is one of the reasons > I use synthetics > now. :0) > > 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: > >
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=946962.html > > > Joe
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 quality.
Reply to
Paul E. Lehmann
> The problem you are seeing is one of the reasons I use synthetics > now. :0) >
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.
Pp
Reply to
pp
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 term? 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 > > > The problem you are seeing is one of the reasons I use synthetics > > now. :0) > > 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. > > Pp
Reply to
jim
> 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 > term? > > 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 > > > > > > The problem you are seeing is one of the reasons I use synthetics > > > now. :0) > > > 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. > > > Pp- Hide quoted text - > > - Show quoted text -
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 detailed info/references.
Pp
Reply to
pp
>> The problem you are seeing is one of the reasons I use synthetics >> now. :0) >> > > 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. > > Pp
how about saving martinelli sparkling cider bottles? They take crown caps and are 750ml.
Gene
Reply to
gene
> >> The problem you are seeing is one of the reasons I use synthetics > >> now. :0) > > > 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. > > > Pp > > how about saving martinelli sparkling cider bottles? They take crown > caps and are 750ml. > > Gene
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.
Pp
Reply to
pp
>>>> The problem you are seeing is one of the reasons I use synthetics >>>> now. :0) >>> 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. >>> Pp >> how about saving martinelli sparkling cider bottles? They take crown >> caps and are 750ml. >> >> Gene > > 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. > > Pp
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.
From
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Champagne Wine Bottles - 750ml - GREEN - 12 per case
Quantity
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
Gene
Reply to
gene
>>>> The problem you are seeing is one of the reasons I use synthetics >>>> now. :0) >>> 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. >>> Pp >> how about saving martinelli sparkling cider bottles? They take crown >> caps and are 750ml. >> >> Gene > > 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. > > Pp
I found a very good discussion here on 750 ml crown cap bottles:
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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.
Gene
Reply to
gene
>>>>> The problem you are seeing is one of the reasons I use synthetics >>>>> now. :0) >>>> 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. >>>> Pp >>> how about saving martinelli sparkling cider bottles? They take crown >>> caps and are 750ml. >>> >>> Gene >> >> 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. >> >> Pp > > I found a very good discussion here on 750 ml crown cap bottles: > >
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> > > 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. > > Gene
One more good point to consider is how long the crown cap provides an adequate seal...
From
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"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
Gene
Reply to
gene

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