I've had the same rim of bubbles on mine after bottling, and got all concerned (there's a thread back there somewhere!) but it turned out to be no problem. To further amplify what Peter says, here's a recent Wall Street Journal article about corks you might find interesting. (Ain't learnin' fun!)
<H1 =articleTitle style="MARGIN: 0px">How to End a Bottleneck</H1>
<DIV style="PADDING-RIGHT: 0px; PADDING-LEFT: 0px; PADDING-BOTTOM: 0px; FONT: bold 12px times new roman, times, serif; PADDING-TOP: 12px">By JONATHAN KARL
October 3, 2007;PageD10
If you order a bottle of wine at a high-end restaurant these days, the sommelier might just come over to your table, a fine vintage in hand, and twist off a metal cap as if he were opening a bottle of Pepsi. Whether this tableside performance -- so banal compared with the artful choreography of the corkscrew -- is a sign of the cultural apocalypse is hard to say. But a business revolution does seem to be under way: Winemakers around the world are rebelling against the cork.
On the shelves of wine shops everywhere you can find bottles sealed with screw caps and with cork-shaped plastic stoppers. And it's not just the cheap stuff. That bottle of wine with a screw cap could cost you $50, $100 or even $200. From the days when Thomas Jefferson's cellar was filled with bottles of Lafite to the near-present, it was cork and only cork that sealed wine bottles from the invading effects of the surrounding air. As recently as the late 1990s, you would be hard-pressed to find a corkless bottle of serious wine anywhere in the world.
No more. The cork has nearly disappeared from Australia's domestically produced -- and broadly exported -- wines. In California, screw caps are no longer reserved for jug wines: The $155-a-bottle Plumpjack Reserve Cabernet is a twist-off. Even France, the country most reluctant to abandon a corky tradition, is flirting with alternatives. Earlier this year, Maison Jean-Claude Boisset became the first to do away with corks on a grand cru red burgundy, sealing half its $200-a-bottle 2005 Chambertin with screw caps.
So what's going on? Technology plays a part, but taste and competition do as well: Too many bad corks have been ruining too much perfectly good wine. For a couple of hundred years, winemakers and wine drinkers understood that the wine in a small percentage of bottles -- as much as 3% to 5% -- would suffer from the contamination of bad corks (and, sometimes, bad barrels). The culprit was a chemical called tricholoanisole, or TCA. It caused wine to become "corked" -- that is, to smell like a moldy pile of damp cardboard. The TCA problem -- apparently originating at the early stages of cork harvesting -- seemed to get worse over the past few decades. But the cork industry, dominated by a handful of big companies in Spain and Portugal, refused even to acknowledge the problem, let alone do anything about it.
The cork makers were in for a rude awakening. "To cork's critics, the failure rate is both outrageous and unacceptable," writes George Taber in "To Cork or Not to Cork." "They repeatedly argue that if 3% or 5% of Toyota cars or IBM computers failed, those companies would be out of business." So over the past decade, winemakers have taken matters into their own hands, exploring alternatives that include, lately, glass caps.
There is more at stake here than the wages of sommeliers. According to Mr. Taber, the revenue of the companies that manufacture the stopping-apparatus for a bottle of wine -- those who seek, yes, "closure" -- is about $4 billion a year. Cork still dominates, but it is losing ground. In New Zealand the revolution is nearly complete: In 2000, nearly all its wines were closed with corks; today 95% have screw caps.
Such rapid change has provoked a debate within the wine business. In 2002, Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Winery in California held an elaborate "funeral for the cork" in Manhattan, complete with pallbearers, a hearse and a "heartfelt wake for the old stinker" at Grand Central Terminal. The eulogy was given by British wine critic Jancis Robinson, who pronounced: "The great big supertanker SS Screwcap has set sail, and there will be no turning back."
Maybe, but screw caps and synthetic corks may cause problems of their own: They may do such a good job sealing the bottle that they kill the wine. One of the first to explore this problem was Paul White, a journalist and wine expert in New Zealand, who has been on a crusade against the screw-cap revolution. Mr. White argues that cork is essential to wine's aging process because it lets trace amounts of oxygen into the bottle. A perfectly sealed wine bottle with a screw cap can, over time, suffer from something called "reduction" -- causing it to smell like sulfur-infused rotten eggs. The idea that a small amount of oxygen is essential to the aging of wine may not be universally accepted, but it is not new. As Louis Pasteur put it more than 150 years ago: "It is oxygen that makes the wine." Mr. White's criticism of screw caps has made him something of a pariah in New Zealand, where the wine industry is so heavily invested in them.
Faced with market pressures for the first time, the big cork producers are finally taking steps to tighten their quality control and seek out the cork that causes TCA. And the World Wildlife Fund -- in a case of free-market environmentalism -- has jumped to the defense of corks, since their use in wine bottles is the surest way of protecting the old cork forests in Spain and Portugal. Cork is harvested by slicing the bark off cork trees. The trees survive, living on for more than a century. If the market for cork dries up, strip malls may stand where cork forests now do.
In "To Cork or Not to Cork," Mr. Taber does an able job of telling the story of the cork industry's early history, its rise to global monopoly status and the recent search for alternatives. On the central question -- to cork or not to cork -- he takes a pass. The science, he believes, is inconclusive. Screw caps and plastic corks seem to work fine for wines, especially white wines, that are drunk soon after they are bottled. But it is too early to tell if they will work for wines that should stay in the cellar for years.
But the debate is about more than the science of wine aging. As Mr. Taber writes: "In the entire world, only a few sounds bring joy to all but the most jaded. One is the purring kitten, another is the thwack of a well-pitched baseball hitting a perfectly swung bat. And a third is the pop of a cork being pulled from a bottle of wine." For a lot of people, the wine experience is as much about ritual and beauty as it is about the actual taste of wine. To avoid the Pepsi effect, a wine lover might say, put a cork in it.
Mr. Karl is senior national security correspondent for ABC News.