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How to Prepare Your Corks - The Basics

Posted November 1st, 2009 | 2 Comments

Corks are made from the bark of cork-oak trees which are stripped when they are 15-20 years old. The virgin cork is coarse, but as the cork renews its tissue, successive strippings at intervals of 10-15 years yields a closer grained product - cork tissue that is threaded with small ducts called "lenticels" which have woody walls. Corks make excellent stoppers for sealing quality wines over an extended period of time.

This unique material has low density, compressibility and impregnability to gases and liquids which make it ideal during long spells of contact with liquids (i.e. wine) The Preparation The Optimum Method is to bring a pot of water to steaming level, put as many corcks as required (usually 28-30) in the pot and cover it with a lid. Be sure to turn the stove OFF. Leave for 5 minutes MAXIMUM, remove from the water, then proceed to the corking process. Make sure the corker has been sterilized (with 'Pink Stuff ') prior to inserting the corks.

After your bottles have been corked, leave standing upright for 72 hours to allow the corks to dry and the pressure to escape. Place the bottles on sides for storage. The Technique Your require careful preparation and good technique to ensure corking success. When using a floor corker, bring the lever down until the piston touches the cork, then you must pause for 4 seconds in order to compress the cork in the machine. That will allow the cork to depress a little more and the jaws to catch up with the cork in order to ease it's entry into the bottle. Allowing all the elements to come together will ensure a successful experience.

Post filed under: Ask The Vintner

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wendy scott wrote on Mar 26, 2010 7:16 PM:
I have soaked the corks in the sterilize solution for 15 mins then rinsed and proceeded to cork the bottles. Is this ok?
Ron wrote on Jul 20, 2011 1:34 PM:

Hot water only for corks, the sterilant will absorb into the cork and when the bottle is laid on its side the wine may be contaminated. Sterilant is used for all equipment but not for corks.

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