Like Wade, I just do a quick rinse with a sulfite solution. I'm not entirely sure it's necessary, but after bottling god-only-knows how much wine, I've only had one instance of a bad cork. So this regime seems to work pretty well. That one bottle was "corked"... that is, it had a slight off-taste caused by TCA.My first kit (Vinter's Reserve Cab) is due to be bottled tomorrow and I'm wondering how to prepare the corks.
Thanks Rawlus... very informative post... I have been using the corks with the natural ends and am still in limbo as to which style I will settle on. Actually, I thought my corks were solid until I did some reading and inspected my corks more closely. I agree... frugality with the corks may be counterproductive.my own little list of cork and corking guidelines
i expect my wine to be able to age several years if i choose to let it. this is the driving reason behind me using mostly high-grade natural corks.
- i use the best Natural corks i can get fresh and locally from a place with high turnover. i usually try to go with Extra First grade 1.75" #9 for less than $0.30 ea. in qty of 250pcs
- duo-disc or twin-disc or 1+1s can be very good if the end discs are excellent, the cost savings over Natural 1's is about 50%.
- if they are factory-sealed, i just go ahead an use them without treatment. (usually corks of this grade have been sulfite gassed during processing and have been block parafinned for easy insertion) heat-treating or wetting the corks will ruin the pre-treatment.
- if i am using my own leftovers or something that's been repackaged from factory, then i will humidify them in sulfite gas for 2-10 hours (overnight or the morning of bottling) using the humidor method others have described except i do not pour the liquid onto the corks directly (for reason described above).
- i don't soak them, microwave them, boil them or otherwise treat them except for gas.
- i don't use agglomerated, nomacork or synthetics personally, but many do and seem to have good results...
- i have used good quality 1+1s on early drinkers and some whites and have been satisfied with their performance.
- i inspect each cork during bottling and will throw out one that i think has too many fissures in the ends or sides or other signs it will not perform to its expectation (i won't risk a bottle on frugality with regard to the cork) and i will use the best-looking, cleanest and most intact end in the corker for the side which faces the wine.
- corked bottles get stored upside down in cases or horizontally on racks with no ill effects - i don't leave them upright for 24hrs first, usually only an hour or two max.
- i use #9 untapered corks exclusively for standard bottles. some small-format bottles require #8s or #7s and some italian bottles have VERY narrow neck openings as well.
- i use a portugese floor corker for corking duties
Rawlus... most of my knowledge in this area is what I have read... I really appreciate your thoughtful answers... it means a lot to me that your answers are so comprehensive and the fact that they reinforce my research tells me that you are a great source of information.bill. i don't really have any strong opinions on synthetic corks. i suspect they are often used for pricepoint reasons - many inexpensive commercial wines meant to be drank right away use billions of them.
i rarely see them used once you get above $20/bottle or so in commercial wines.
i have heard purists argue that synthetics don't act the same way as natural cork for micro-oxygenation and others have argued that they don't insert as reliably with various types of corkers.
the pros are that the chances for TCA are zero, if that is a concern.
they are inexpensive and they should hold a seal very well for good amounts of time.
i would consider synthetic closures on something like an island mist/orchard breezin type of wine. but otherwise i would use natural cork as my first option, 1+1 as my second. synthetic as my third. and agglomerated as my last.