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Inventory of wine corks – I have everything you want

Nov 19,/2022

The emergence of the wine stopper as a line of defense for the quality of wine is a very important part of the history of wine.

For the first few thousand years, people did everything they could to extend the shelf life of their wines.

Historical origins

In the early days of wine encapsulation, strips of cloth soaked in oil were often twisted into a ball to tighten the wine, or leather was wrapped around vines and other materials to achieve a seal, as reflected in some medieval paintings.

Later, clay plugs and waxes also began to carry the function of wine stoppers, which apparently provided a better seal than cloth and leather.

Ancient Egyptian wine jars preserved with ink marks and intact clay stoppers.

Egyptian Wine Production during the New Kingdom – by Leonard H. Lesko

Image source: grapecollective.com

In order to prolong the preservation of wine, people have even learned to isolate the air by dripping olive oil onto the surface of the wine.

Wine sealed with olive oil and wax

About 1650 years old, in the Pfalz Historical Museum

Image source: mymodernmet.com

Traces of cork use were also found in ancient Egyptian tombs, however, the varying sizes of wine containers made it impossible for cork’s mass production.

And in that era of imperfect sterilization technology, due to the cork-induced wine spoilage, so people once became very cautious about the use of cork.

Image source: amorim.com

In the 14th century, the Italians used glass in the manufacture of wine bottles. Over the next few centuries, glass developed into a new material for wine stoppers.

At this time, the relatively expensive hand-blown bottles were not guaranteed to be identical in size, and matching corks needed to be made separately.

The glass stopper needed to be polished with diamond powder and oil to ensure that the stopper would fit the bottle perfectly and prevent leakage. However, while a tightly sealed frosted glass stopper can certainly extend the shelf life of the wine, it is almost impossible to open the bottle without damaging it.

With the high cost and the potential for sharp spouts and glass ballast after opening, the glass stopper was eventually replaced by a wooden cork.

With the development of modern microbiology, sterilization technology far more than the past, the re-emergence of cork is not the old days can be. In addition, the glass manufacturing process has been very mature, blowing out the shape of almost the same wine bottle is not a difficult task, and this also adds a boost to the wide range of cork applications.

Modern development

With the development of the times, wine stoppers have gradually evolved into a variety of materials and shapes. Anti-corked, reusable, no-wine-knife opening …… a series of features gradually tend to the direction of wine quality, environmental friendly and easy to open for consumers.

Natural cork

Directly drilled from the bark of cork oak, intact, light and very flexible, according to the origin, color, wood location, density, flexibility, compressibility, permeability have different quality grading, the majority of wines use this type of cork.

Image source: amorim.com (left) corklink.com (right)

Colmated Cork

It is also known as the natural cork with a facelift. Part of the natural cork body has large pores on the surface, and is filled with cork powder and binder to make it ready for use.

Image source: europages.co.uk

Agglomerated Cork

Also known as Granulated, Microgranulated. It is made from the trimmings (cork chips, cork dust, etc.) produced during the production of natural cork, and pressed with the addition of binders. This type of wine stopper is less expensive, but of course the added binder has the risk of bringing bad odor.

Image source: europages.co.uk

Technical cork

Technical cork is what we often call patch cork. It is shaped like a cookie with a thicker sandwich, with a composite cork in the middle and a complete cork piece attached to each end.

Image source: winefolly.com

Most champagne corks also fall into the category of patch corks, with a composite cork on top and a full section of cork on the bottom.

Image source: Images.fineartamerica.com

Synthetic cork

Commonly known as rubber stoppers. While the vast majority are made from rubber, petroleum-based plastics or other composite materials, some synthetic cork manufacturers are now developing cork made from plant-based polymers (synthetic cork giant Nomacorc is experimenting with plant-based polymers from corn and sugar cane). There is no risk of corked wine stoppers, but due to the material, most synthetic stoppers may still give the wine some unpleasant chemical odors.

Image source: pemag.cz

Screw Caps

Reusable metal wine stopper, usually made of aluminum. This type of wine stopper is much more closed than oak stopper, easy to open and will not produce a broken cork, corked and other embarrassing situations. Most wineries in Australia and New Zealand use screw caps to seal their wines.

Image source: delish.com

Capsulated cork

Also known as T-shaped cork, the upper part is attached to a wider cap made of wood, glass, porcelain or other materials, the bottom plunger is usually natural cork or synthetic material, the diameter of the bottle mouth diameter difference of about 2mm or so (easy to pull out and re-insert), reusable, commonly used to strengthen the packaging of wine and spirits.

Vino-Lok

Consists of a main body glass stopper and a rubber gasket that is reusable. The presence of the rubber ring creates an almost perfect seal inside the wine and the glass stopper is completely impossible to corked. Of course, glass stoppers are still relatively expensive and almost impossible to bottle with a bottling machine, resulting in high labor costs. Currently, some Austrian and German wines are sealed with glass stoppers.

Diam

Dried oak is washed in boiling water, crushed, filtered and then pressed using the DIAMANT process to produce a cork. The core technology is the use of supercritical CO2 to extract substances from the cork that cause organoleptic deviations (such as the infamous TCA), eliminating bad odors from the cork at the source.

Image source: nuancetrade.com

Zork

Made of 100% recyclable food-grade polymer, the lower end is a peelable protective seal that can be easily opened with bare hands, just like opening a bottle of gum, and it retains the “boing” sound made when opening the oak cork. Of course, such a cork is required to make a special cork, the cost is relatively higher. This cork can be found in the wines of Leese-Fitch Winery in California.

Helix

It is made of cork and has a threaded lower plunger surface, which also eliminates the need for a wine knife and makes opening the wine as easy as unscrewing mineral water. However, it requires a bottle with the same internal thread, and the cost of the stopper and bottle is relatively high. Amorim Group, the world’s largest cork manufacturer, and Owens-Illinois, the world’s largest glass container manufacturer, have joined forces to launch this product. This cork can be seen in the 2017 post-tank bottlings from California’s Callie Collection Winery.

Image source: portuguese-american-journal.com

Wine stoppers are still in a constant process of development and new advantages are always emerging as people’s needs continue to rise.

Ladies and gentlemen, what other special wine stoppers have you seen or what new expectations do you have for the future of wine stoppers?

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