Last month we talked a little about bottles, their shapes, sizes and origins. This month we’re heading to the top of the bottle to discuss closures. There are many different ways to seal your wine bottles. Which one you choose comes down to winemaker preference.
The traditional and original way is to use natural cork from a Quercus Suber oak tree found in Portugal. The cork-oak can only be harvested from mature trees every 9 years. This method dates back to 17th century. In the 1980’s winemakers and consumers started to notice a musty smell which has be linked to fungus 2,4,6, trichloroanisole (TCA) an adverse odor affect we call “corked”.
During this time producers were looking for an alternative closure and there we have synthetic and technical, man-made, corks. While all corks are manufactured to be as neutral as possible technical corks are glued pieces of natural cork and synthetic corks are petroleum based foam. Synthetic corks are similar to traditional corks as their breathability is consistent.
Man-made corks are larger than the bottle opening. On the bottling line the cork is compressed to be inserted then expands to fit the bottle opening and again expands a little more when removed. This can be seen as a benefit (less oxygen exchange rate) or disadvantage to some long term, for wines that need to age in bottle. If you need to recork your wine either place cork wine side up or use one of the stoppers we’ve all received from secret Santa.
Other closures we see are screw, crown cap, and mushroom. Screw top closures are typically used on a bottle that will be drank sooner and don’t need aging. Where as crown cap and mushroom are used on sparkling wine where a tight seal is needed to hold the carbonation.
Here at SFV, after many trials, we have chosen to use synthetic corks by Nomacorc. You can choose the oxygen transfer rate for specific wines, they are made of sugar cane and TCA free.
As always, If you have more questions let us know and we’ll get with winemaker Rene.
– Jordan Brons, SFV Marketing