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What Type of Cork Do You Use?

  • Traditional "Real" Corks

    Votes: 27 35.1%
  • Agglomerate Corks

    Votes: 29 37.7%
  • Semi-Synthetics (Altec)

    Votes: 4 5.2%
  • Full-Synthetics (Nomocorq)

    Votes: 4 5.2%
  • Screw Caps

    Votes: 1 1.3%
  • I Use a Variety of Cork Types

    Votes: 12 15.6%

  • Total voters
    77

smurfe

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I was wondering what type of corks do you use to bottle your wine? I have been researching the various types of corks available and talk about conflicting information. One "expert" will say synthetics are the way to go while another will say a synthetic will ruin a wine. One says a synthetic is good for up to 10 years storage while another will say you should drink the wine immediately. So on and so on with every type of cork available. How about your input and beliefs?

Thanks

Smurfe :)
 
C

Caplan

Guest
I'm a 'real' cork user. I can get them cheaply a few minutes walk from my house at a store which is the main reason I use them I suppose. I do examine them and throw any with obvious 'flaws'.
I've never yet had a corked 'home made' wine from using them (the bad luck is sure to hit me now!) but as I've mentioned before i've had plenty of commercial ones that have been.
 

smurfe

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I would like to use the real traditional corks myself but they are so hard to find here in the US and if you do find a retailer selling them they are so expensive. I believe the last place I saw that had them for sale wanted $35.00 USD for a hundred of them.

The average agglomerate cork cost .05 to .07 cents (why isn't there a "cents" key on a keyboard but there is a dollar key) a piece, average synthetic .20-.27 cents a piece and real corks .35 to .45 cents a piece. I really have been skeptical to buy them online as just what you state about obvious defects can't be sorted out by me prior to purchase.

What I can't understand is why everyone is so far off on agreeing the longevity of various corks. I have seen reports that say an Altec Semi-synthetic will last in the bottle 10 years and then read a report that says they are good for up to 2 years. I have read that true synthetics are great and last for years and others say they are terrible for long term and should be used only for wines that are for immediate consumption.

I don't make wine that I see lasting 10 years but I am sure I will have quite a few that will surpass the 5 year mark easily. I really just want to use the best I can find for those "what if" situations where I have wines that may last up to the 10 year mark. Of course, most kit wines, no matter how quality they are probably will not last that long but you never know.

Smurfe :)
 
C

Caplan

Guest
What I can't understand is why everyone is so far off on agreeing the longevity of various corks. I have seen reports that say an Altec Semi-synthetic will last in the bottle 10 years and then read a report that says they are good for up to 2 years. I have read that true synthetics are great and last for years and others say they are terrible for long term and should be used only for wines that are for immediate consumption.

I don't make wine that I see lasting 10 years but I am sure I will have quite a few that will surpass the 5 year mark easily. I really just want to use the best I can find for those "what if" situations where I have wines that may last up to the 10 year mark. Of course, most kit wines, no matter how quality they are probably will not last that long but you never know.
It's a fair point smurfe - No one agrees on corks. I'd side with your point of 'drink within 5 years' route for most kit and 'country' (i.e. other fruit) wines. Ten years may be pushing the limit of most wine kits/country/commercial versions - let alone corks!

I'd stick with personal preference and judge aging on taste.
 

RichBrewer

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I haven't corked a wine yet and I have no idea which type I'll be using. Dang this hobby seems simple on the outside but there are a lot of details!
I also don't know what type of corker I will use.
 

phantom

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Corks and Corker

I don't know that you'll ever get a consensus on the types of corks to use, but I'm pretty sure that you won't get any arguments about the use of a floor corker.

I've got one of the Italian ones, with the brass iris/jaws. I've never heard of anyone breaking a floor corker, but I've read plenty of stories of people breaking their twin-lever corkers on their first batch, some on their first cork.
 

FentonCellars

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I use real corks and get to either choose them or the owner of the VT Home Brew Supply store hand picks the best ones for me. With every batch I get 30.

I also got my whole kit from him and he supplied me with the double handed corker (not the floor model) and I have had no issues. I just bottled my first batch before xmas and the only issue I see is the cylinder that pushes the corks in, didn't push them in enough. The corks stuck out of the tops by about 1/4 of an inch. I think I'm going to rig a spacer to make sure the cork is pushed down enough next time.
 

cpfan

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Some hand corkers have screw at the top to adjust the set of the cork. Some don't. Take a look.

Steve
 
C

Caplan

Guest
I haven't corked a wine yet and I have no idea which type I'll be using. Dang this hobby seems simple on the outside but there are a lot of details!
I also don't know what type of corker I will use.
I don't know that you'll ever get a consensus on the types of corks to use, but I'm pretty sure that you won't get any arguments about the use of a floor corker.

I've got one of the Italian ones, with the brass iris/jaws. I've never heard of anyone breaking a floor corker, but I've read plenty of stories of people breaking their twin-lever corkers on their first batch, some on their first cork.
Rich,

As Phantom has mentioned pretty much everyone I've heard of who's used an Italian Floor Corker has rated them highly. It seems LHBS's in the US rent them out for bottling. That seems a sensible idea until you decide if more wines are on the brew calendar!:)

I'm a simple 'Flogger' user when it comes to wine corking. I've had the device for years and it hasn't let me down yet. As soon as it (or the hammer) breaks I'll be buying a floor corker.
 

Luc

Dutch Winemaker
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I use the double handed version and the simple flogger.
Neither of them has let me down in the past.

My largest batch was about 40 bottles at once, so not a great deal.
And there is nothing wrong in a bit of hard work in the winery, the wine tastes even better after that :D

You can spend any amount you like, but it is all wasted if it turns out that you do not like this hobby (unlikely event, but you will never know), so go down slow at the budget at first. Do as any winemaker does: have patience :p Luc

This sounds a bit like an old teacher to his kids, but hey I am also a kid (an old kid) and nothing is more fun as looking around in a winemaker shop and thinking I want that, oooohhh and I want that, and oooohhhh I want that.
So do yourself a favor and buy every now and then something new, and it is everytime like the kid in the candy shop.

Luc
 
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DarkStar

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I love my Italian corker best Purchase Ive made. Been using Altec corks for anything Im planning on keeping around more than a couple years and nomacork synthetic for everything else.
 

smurfe

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I love my Italian corker best Purchase Ive made. Been using Altec corks for anything Im planning on keeping around more than a couple years and nomacork synthetic for everything else.
The last few batches I bottled I used Altec Corks. If I ever get around to bottling the few around here that need done I have 100 Neocorqs (sp) (they have 1.75") I was going to try that are full synthetics but these are high end kits so I may use the Altec's. I just wish I could find a place that sells real corks for less than and arm and a leg.

Smurfe :)
 

FentonCellars

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I just checked and the corker I have doesn't have an adjustment. No worries, I can quickly machine a spacer in my garage using some old metal lying around.

Would it be bad if the cork is a bit lower then flush with the top of the bottle? I'm assuming that the only issue would be that it could be a bit tricky for the drinker to take the cork out with a standard cork remover?!?!

Does anyone use candle wax or something like this to add some sort of cool seal at the top of the cork?
 

smurfe

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I just use the plastic capsules that shrink with heat on the tops of my bottles.

Smurfe :)
 

cpfan

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I just checked and the corker I have doesn't have an adjustment. No worries, I can quickly machine a spacer in my garage using some old metal lying around.

Would it be bad if the cork is a bit lower then flush with the top of the bottle? I'm assuming that the only issue would be that it could be a bit tricky for the drinker to take the cork out with a standard cork remover?!?!

Does anyone use candle wax or something like this to add some sort of cool seal at the top of the cork?
I doubt that would be a problem with most corkscrews. Definitely NOT a problem with the couple that I am used to.

Yes some people put wax or something on top. I would be concerned about possible wax in the wine when pouring, and cleaning of the bottle for re0use. Probably just me being over cautious.

BTW, at least one expensive corkscrew company says putting the spiral through wax or shrinks will damage the spiral.

Steve
 
C

conman610

Guest
dont real cork corks hold up well?
ok so i may be a wine rookie, but didnt i hear a few years back about a bottle of wine mabe by thomas jefferson was sold at some fancy auction? never did hear if it had gone bad or not but for a long long time only cork corks were available right?
is a lot of it on how it is taken care of? as in leaving the bottles on their sides and rotating them every few months? case in point: my dad had found some old wine at a garage sale. stuff from the 70's. a bottle of blue nun among it. 3 bottles. 1 was champagne of some sort too. all 3 of them gone bad turned to a nasty sort of vinegar stuff. undrinkable. supposedly these bottles were left standing up and the cork (all 3 had cork corks) had dried out and the seal was comprimised. made sense to me. i remember the cork of one more or less disintegrated and fell down in the bottle as i tried to screw in my swiss army corckscrew. would proper storage and maintenance saved these wines? i would suppose the same applies to us as well right?
 

smurfe

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dont real cork corks hold up well?
ok so i may be a wine rookie, but didnt i hear a few years back about a bottle of wine mabe by thomas jefferson was sold at some fancy auction? never did hear if it had gone bad or not but for a long long time only cork corks were available right?
is a lot of it on how it is taken care of? as in leaving the bottles on their sides and rotating them every few months? case in point: my dad had found some old wine at a garage sale. stuff from the 70's. a bottle of blue nun among it. 3 bottles. 1 was champagne of some sort too. all 3 of them gone bad turned to a nasty sort of vinegar stuff. undrinkable. supposedly these bottles were left standing up and the cork (all 3 had cork corks) had dried out and the seal was comprimised. made sense to me. i remember the cork of one more or less disintegrated and fell down in the bottle as i tried to screw in my swiss army corckscrew. would proper storage and maintenance saved these wines? i would suppose the same applies to us as well right?
There would be many factors to keep the wine good for that many years. Yes, the quality of the corks will play in effect. The corks in those bottles probably were real corks. Even the best corks will dry out even with the bottles on their side. The humidity and temperature of the storage area will work on that. For a wine to truly last generations, perfect cellar conditions need to be in place that have constant, controlled temps and humidity. You can uncork an older wine and re-cork them with a fresh cork and continue to cellar if the wine has a few years on it.

Next the quality of the wine itself plays on the longevity. If I remember, Blue Nun was a cheap-o wine from the 70's. Most of the wine bought and consumed today are not meant to be cellared and aged. They are meant for immediate consumption. A bottle of Yellow Tail would probably be vinegar in 30 years as well. Perfect cellar conditions will allow it a longer life though.
 
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At the risk of sounding really dumb...

Has anyone used screw tops? I've read a lot about the winemaking industry switching over to them. It seems to me like it'd be pretty economical and environmentally friendly (overused term, I know, but it can still be used in the appropriate context...) since they can be reused (again, from what I've read.) You all seem to me to be a group that might have some strong opinions- So, please let me have 'em!:)
 

cpfan

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Shake:

As you can see from the results of this pole...NOBODY who has voted is using screw caps. The short story is that the style of caps being used by the commercial wineries is not available to the home winemaker (or for that matter a Ferment on Premises store). Why not? PRICE!! The existing cappers are designed for commercial production lines. Until a 'hobbiest' version of these cappers becomes available, we're out of luck. Reusing the caps is probably not a good idea for anything other than short term storage. And the caps are prone to damage because they are thin metal.

There are some other screw on caps (eg 28mm polyseal), but bottles for these are not common. Also, there is no known testing of these caps for long term storage.

The bottom line is...screw caps are convenient, but impractical for us.

Steve
 
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i got screw cap bottles

Hey cpfan- I got some of the 28mm polyseal caps and the companion 750ml bottles from EC Kraus. They were pretty reasonably priced and I'm not planning on doing significant amounts that will store longer than- oh, say- 2 years tops. Maybe some day down the line I'll branch off into long-aging wines, but for now, with 5 kids at home, I'm into the short term wines. Do you think I can get away with 2 years tops in the polyseal caps?:confused:
 

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