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Old 06.10.2012, 15:55
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Lower Classed Corks

I was wondering if there different grades of corks. While I know they do break down over time with contact to wine, some are made now of a plastic, and also the efforts to recycle them, but I have noticed while un corking wine in the last couple of months, that the crumbling, especially from french and spanish bottles, is 1 out of 3. These are random too. Some cellared, some purchased recently. All of which being 2010's at the oldest.

Are these corks not true blooded?
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Old 06.10.2012, 16:11
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Re: Lower Classed Corks

It's no secret that there's a cork shortage right now, which is part of the reason you're seeing more bottles move to screwtop or plastic corks. At the middle-to-upper end of the market (eg, CHF15+ per bottle) I find that most wines that still use corks are using reasonably high quality cork, while wines below that price point are using recycled cork of various qualities.

At the cheapest end of the market, the recycled corks almost look like they're made of sawdust that's been glued back together.

There are a few tips to opening these bottles with as little risk of breaking up the cork as possible. First, make sure you're using a decent corkscrew. It particular, make sure that your corkscrew is not an Archimedes-type screw with a central spine:



These tend to break up a cork rather than pulling them out cleanly. You want one that's as curly as a pig's tail, like this:



Finally, if you really want to avoid broken corks, you could switch to an Ah So corkscrew. These are traditionally used with older, more fragile corks and they work a treat once you've got the technique down. There's no reason they wouldn't work with a newer cork just as well. If you're not familiar with these, they use two long blades that are inserted alongside the cork, removing the cork by "squeezing" it without actually piercing it. They're easy enough to find online.



Finally, if the worst happens, just decant the wine into a decanter (instantly turning your CHF4 bottle of plonk into something fancy-schmancy), using a piece of cheesecloth/muslin over the neck of the bottle to filter out the remnant of cork.

Happy drinking!
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Old 06.10.2012, 16:19
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Re: Lower Classed Corks

BTW, while we're on the topic of corkscrews, my all-time favourite is the Boomerang. It's cheap, has a proper screw-pull, and the integrated foil cutter does a much nicer job than the dull blade on the end of the more traditional Waiter's Friend. All for a tenner -- what more could you want?

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Old 06.10.2012, 17:29
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Re: Lower Classed Corks

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It's no secret that there's a cork shortage right now, which is part of the reason you're seeing more bottles move to screwtop or plastic corks. At the middle-to-upper end of the market (eg, CHF15+ per bottle) I find that most wines that still use corks are using reasonably high quality cork, while wines below that price point are using recycled cork of various qualities.

At the cheapest end of the market, the recycled corks almost look like they're made of sawdust that's been glued back together.

There are a few tips to opening these bottles with as little risk of breaking up the cork as possible. First, make sure you're using a decent corkscrew. It particular, make sure that your corkscrew is not an Archimedes-type screw with a central spine:



These tend to break up a cork rather than pulling them out cleanly. You want one that's as curly as a pig's tail, like this:



Finally, if you really want to avoid broken corks, you could switch to an Ah So corkscrew. These are traditionally used with older, more fragile corks and they work a treat once you've got the technique down. There's no reason they wouldn't work with a newer cork just as well. If you're not familiar with these, they use two long blades that are inserted alongside the cork, removing the cork by "squeezing" it without actually piercing it. They're easy enough to find online.



Finally, if the worst happens, just decant the wine into a decanter (instantly turning your CHF4 bottle of plonk into something fancy-schmancy), using a piece of cheesecloth/muslin over the neck of the bottle to filter out the remnant of cork.

Happy drinking!
Know anywhere I can walk into around Zurich and get it? They aren't all cheap wine, but a lot of Gamay, Grenache, Tempranillos, and Cabs recetly.
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Old 06.10.2012, 18:25
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Re: Lower Classed Corks

Does anyone have problems with the plastic corks? I think they are super. I also like the screw tops. For me using real cork really is a snobbish thing.

Wasn't there a problem with the cork woods being sprayed with weed killer? This was sucked up into the cork bark bringing a chemical damp odour. When the wine touched these corks it tasted off and "corked"

Is there a possibility that if the cork does not touch the wine, the cork will dry out and become crumbly?
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Old 06.10.2012, 18:45
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Re: Lower Classed Corks

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For me using real cork really is a snobbish thing.
You don't drink 20 year old reds, I take it?

For MOST whites, sure plastic is fine, though some whites age as well, and thus need cork. No cork = no aging.

Tom
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Old 06.10.2012, 19:37
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Re: Lower Classed Corks

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You don't drink 20 year old reds, I take it?
What Tom said.

In fact, it was drinking 20-year old reds that turned me onto the Ah So corkscrew. No matter how careful you are, an old cork is an old cork, and I was just splitting too many of them.

Now, anything that's 8+ years old gets opened with the Ah So corkscrew. Perfect opening everytime.

No idea where you'd get one in Zurich -- maybe a specialist wine merchant? I'm pretty sure I've seen them in the cookware section of Globus as well. Alternatively, there are plenty of online sellers who will ship you one -- that might be the easiest way to track one down.
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Old 07.10.2012, 00:06
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Re: Lower Classed Corks

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What Tom said.

In fact, it was drinking 20-year old reds that turned me onto the Ah So corkscrew. No matter how careful you are, an old cork is an old cork, and I was just splitting too many of them.

Now, anything that's 8+ years old gets opened with the Ah So corkscrew. Perfect opening everytime.

No idea where you'd get one in Zurich -- maybe a specialist wine merchant? I'm pretty sure I've seen them in the cookware section of Globus as well. Alternatively, there are plenty of online sellers who will ship you one -- that might be the easiest way to track one down.
I have never seen one before. I showed the picture of it to a Chef de Cave friend of mine, and was told they never saw one before either. If it works I'll buy one tonight.

I opened a bottle of 1975, can't remember the name of it, other then it was a Pomerol, and the cork just went right in the bottle. Normally I think the cork is supposed to be changed every, 20 years is it, but this was the original cork. The wine actually tasted good, but those in the room that saw the cork go in, just talked about tasting cork all the through bottle, and not happy with me opening a bottle I had been holding onto for a while.

I think the plastic corks are fine, but not for reds.

I opened a bottle of Cotes du Rhone tonight, and paid closer attention to the cork...and yeah it looks like it was made of compressed particles. Strange I never noticed that before, and I have 4 cases of it.
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Old 07.10.2012, 00:59
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Re: Lower Classed Corks

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Finally, if you really want to avoid broken corks, you could switch to an Ah So corkscrew. These are traditionally used with older, more fragile corks and they work a treat once you've got the technique down. There's no reason they wouldn't work with a newer cork just as well. If you're not familiar with these, they use two long blades that are inserted alongside the cork, removing the cork by "squeezing" it without actually piercing it. They're easy enough to find online.

I am aware of these devices, but I just can't remember where, it must be online.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...&v=uQXz-SY-3gE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_ytd...eature=related

For sale, US$ 6 plus shipping,

http://www.winestuff.com/corkscrews/...ble-prong.html

.

.

Last edited by Sbrinz; 07.10.2012 at 01:10.
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Old 07.10.2012, 10:58
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Re: Lower Classed Corks

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I opened a bottle of 1975, can't remember the name of it, other then it was a Pomerol, and the cork just went right in the bottle. Normally I think the cork is supposed to be changed every, 20 years is it, but this was the original cork. The wine actually tasted good, but those in the room that saw the cork go in, just talked about tasting cork all the through bottle, and not happy with me opening a bottle I had been holding onto for a while.
If they'd been snooty about this, I'd explain to them that it's not exposure to cork that causes a wine to taste corky -- otherwise, every wine would taste of cork. Why should the bottom of the cork, in contact with the wine for 20 years, not cause any change in flavour, but contact with the top of the same cork for 60 seconds suddenly make the whole bottle taste corky?

'Corked' wine comes from the reaction of naturally-occuring fungi in the cork to chlorides used in the wine production process.

Then I'd switch them onto cheap plonk and enjoy the Pomerol myself.
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