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 striping 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 (ie wine).
Preparation of Corks
The Optimum Method is to pour boiling water over as many corks as required (usually 28-30) in a bowl, and weigh them down so they stay submerged.
Leave for 3 to 5 minutes MAXIMUM, remove from the water, then proceed to the corking process.
Be sure the corker is clean, but do NOT run the disinfectant solution through the corker. This will “gum up” the works!
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 their sides for storage.
You 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 its entry into the bottle. Allowing all the elements to come together will ensure a successful experience.
More and more commercial wineries are not using synthetic closures. If you’re planning on keeping your wines for a long time, you should consider using these closures!
There are a few things to keep in mind when using our synthetic closures:
- Use a 4-jaw floor corker – hand corkers don’t work as well.
- Make sure there is at least 20 mm (1-1/4″) between cork and wine.
- Don’t soak or sanitize prior to use. If they are exposed to dust or other contaminants, sterilize and rinse, then allow them to dry fully before use.
- Store out of direct sunlight, away from chemicals in a sealed bag or container.
For more winemaking and beermaking expert advice, contact The Home Vintner.