A Matter of Taste: How Cork Closures Affect Aging Wine

July 13th, 2015 @ 08:00am Whitney Butler Wine Knowledge 0

We pay no mind to it—a wine cork is usually no concern until it has torn and lodged itself in the neck of a bottle; or worse, broken into pieces, now scattered inside a glass. There are several entertaining ways to open a bottle of wine, or rescue the contents of one poorly popped cork.  There are even ways to enjoy a glass of wine without ever removing the cork. However you pop (or don’t pop) your bottle, it most certainly can affect the taste of your wine.

Wine closures, stoppers and corks are used to stop the oxidation process. Over the past 30 years, some winemakers have shifted away from cork in favor of a variety of materials including the screw cap and synthetic corks. Some argue the cork closure is an esoteric tradition, and that doing away with it altogether avoids the difficulty associated with opening the bottle. However, the unique cellular structure of cork is significant in the aging process.

Before the mid-17th century, French vintners stuffed oil-soaked rags into barrels and bottles to prevent oxidation. When the diameter of the glass bottleneck became more or less regular, cork became more widely used, and the result significantly changed the wine industry—allowing wine to proliferate across the countryside and over oceans.

 

As wine became more transportable, the significance of bottle aging became more apparent since varietals expressed new aroma, bouquets and palate upon reaching their destination. What’s more, cork proved particularly significant in wines aged for more than 10 years.

 

While newer, manufactured wine closures offer anaerobic (no oxygen) bottle aging, traditional cork does not limit oxidation completely. In fact, approximately one milligram of oxygen will enter a corked bottle per year, which over several years will affect the taste of the wine. So, for wine drinkers that wonder why they should struggle with traditional cork closures, it’s simply a matter of taste.

As innovation would have it, the best way to open a bottle of wine is not removing the cork at all. There are several advantages to this: pour by the glass and not by the bottle; no more torn corks or broken bits in the glass. The Coravin pressure and pour system allows you to pour from a bottle without pulling the cork using a medical-grade, wine access needle and argon gas capsules to create a perfect seal.

For friends or family who love drinking wine, this is a fantastic gift or conversation starter. And with everything you’ve learned about corks, you’ll have plenty to say at the next gathering. Grab your Coravin wine opener on sale at Peju Winery this June.

Enjoy all the varietals that Peju, a family-owned winery in Napa Valley, California, has to offer. We invite you to explore our website for more information about experiencing our wines and events.

 

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