What Are the Different Cork Options to Cork a Wine Bottle?


What do you want from a cork?

You can use a cork as an indicator of the quality of the wine inside the bottle, so if you use an attractive looking (and expensive!) natural cork, you will confer an air of quality on the product. On the other hand, if you use a screw top bottle, you will tend to indicate that the wine is cheap and cheerful.

Also consider how important the ageing process is to your wine – is the wine you produce ready to drink, or will it benefit from a few further years in the bottle? Different corks will allow the wine to age in different ways, so if the bottles are going to be aged, then it is almost certainly worth considering spending a little more on the corks.

The mechanical reliability of the cork is something you should consider – a cheap agglomerated cork will be more likely to break in half if it is inexpertly opened, but a higher value cork or indeed a screw top will be more reliable.

What are the cork options?

Going through from the cheapest option to the most expensive, these are your main wine cork options:

Synthetic (or screw-top) corks: these offer a cheap and reliable way to seal a bottle, but as they do not allow any oxygen to enter the bottle, will not encourage ageing. Some argue they cheapen the appearance of the bottle and by implication the wine inside!

Agglomerated corks: these are made from small fragments of corks that are glued together, to provide a uniform stopper. They do not look particularly natural and do not have the open pore structure of natural cork that promotes limited oxygen contact with the wine however and badly made agglomerated corks can be prone to breaking.

Micro-agglomerated corks: use finer cork fragments than normal agglomerated corks and are generally more mechanically reliable and more attractive to look at.

Technical corks: Use a disc of natural cork that comes in contact with the wine and the body of the cork is agglomerated. They offer a blend of the lower cost benefits of agglomerated corks, together with some of the benefits of natural cork in terms of allowing the wine to age.

Colmated corks: these are natural corks that have had imperfections in their surface filled with cork dust that is glued on. Off most of the mechanical characteristics of natural corks, at a lower price, although they may have a slightly synthetic appearance.

Natural corks: come in various quality brands and require careful selection in order to guarantee a good seal. Allow a limited amount of oxygen to enter the bottle to promote ageing, whilst offering excellent mechanical characteristics. Also offer the beauty of natural cork, to make them by far the most visually attractive option.

There is a dramatic difference in pricing between a premium quality natural cork and agglomerated or synthetic stoppers, but they are not meant to do the same job, so they are not really directly comparable. Although the snob value of using a higher value cork can be a consideration in choosing the right kind of cork, the most important thing to consider is what are you intending to happen to the wine once it has been bottled, because the kind of cork you use will be a key determinant of this.

For further help in deciding which is the most appropriate cork for your wine, you should consider speaking to a specialist wine cork supplier such as http://www.corklink.com, who will be able to offer you more advice.


Source by Charles Cutler