Mar 27 2012
When it comes to sealing wines to keep the quality and freshness during shipping and storage, vintners have different views. If the sealing method is a success, the wine ends up being a hit at the dinner table. But if not, then the wine will be judged as undrinkable.
There are some traditionalists who stick to using cork closures to seal their wine despite the fact that synthetic corks are a growing technique of sealing wines.
When corks can be removed easily and the contents are fresh and distinctly flavored, the cork becomes an insignificant item to the buyer. But if the wine has turned to vinegar because the cork is dry and brittle, then the cork becomes an important item.
Most corks are carved from the bark of an oak tree that grows in Portugal and in other Mediterranean countries. Because a fungus can attack the fiber of the corks, the quality of the bottle’s contents can be destroyed.
To ensure that molds, bacteria, and yeast are removed from the cork before processing, some vintners combat the corks flaws by using certain methods. The microorganisms from the cork can be killed by boiling it. They are then flattened, cut into strips and carved into bottle corks.
Synthetic corks are formed from plastic compounds and have been found to reduce the risk of wine contamination. Besides having the disadvantage of being difficult to remove from the bottle, many vintners believe they convey a slight chemical flavor to the wine.
Made from tin or aluminum, screw on caps can form a seal that can last longer than the traditional cork closures. But because customers identify that type of seal with cheap wines, vintners are reluctant to use screw tops on their fine wines.
When it comes to finding a way to successfully seal wines, crown caps are part of a growing trend. During the fermentation process, this has been used in the wine market. But although the crown cap provides a tight seal, the ceremonial aspect involved with opening a bottle of wine is eliminated.
No one wants to open a bottle of wine at a home gathering or restaurant and find that it’s turned to vinegar. Not only is the purchaser disappointed, the vintner suffers a loss as well. This is one of the reasons why wine manufacturers prioritize the making of wine closures.