Stuff A Cork In It!

Many options for bottle closure continue to be developed in the market place for both wineries and home wine makers. Screw caps, synthetic corks, agglomerated corks, colmated corks, natural corks in a variety of grades, tasting corks, it seems endless. So which one is best ? I don't believe there is one correct answer. So let us look at some considerations that will help the individual to decide which product might be best for their needs.

The method of inserting or applying a closure is the first thing to consider, followed by the length of time you intend to cellar your wines. The financial aspect of things is always a worthy of consideration. One always wants to conserve resources to buy more grapes or juice!
If you have a winged typed hand corker or cork plunger for example, you should consider a cork of about 1 inch in length with chamfered edges. Most corks of this length are agglomerated or particles of cork that are formed with an adhesive and shaped. The chamfered edge and short length will made insertion easy. These are favorably priced, and are can be generally used if storing wines for two years or less as they will loose their elasticity.

If you are using a floor corker with brass or stainless steel jaws, you can drive home a 1 ¾" colmated cork with a straight edge. Colmated corks are 90 % natural cork filled with and epoxy and cork dust to fill imperfections and increase performance. Colmated corks are great closures that allow you peace of mind without incurring the cost of a 100% natural cork. Synthetic corks are popular low cost alternatives that are easy enough to insert, they do not however allow for micro oxygen exchange as natural corks do. Recommended storage from most manufactures is less than 5 years.

The screw cap is gaining market share in the commercial wine industry as it reduces cellar losses from cork taint, or TCA. A ridiculously long word for contamination brought on by chlorine. Until recently screw caps for home winemakers have been a challenge. The "SoloCap" is a vinyl product that comes with a sleeve already attached and is very easy to apply. This is a quick and effective closure for storage of two years or less.
When deciding which of these closures best suits your need, keep in mind that corks are perishable. Do not buy a larger quantity than you will use during your upcoming bottling. Buy from a reputable dealer who has high turn over and presents clean packaging. Never buy loose corks from an open bin.

Personally, I prefer to have the peace of mind that comes with a high quality colmated cork. I believe that the 1 ¾" length is the best look and serves as superior protection for that which is most dear to me. Choose wisely.