Choosing Corks and Wine Closures

As I walked about the roomful of wine following April’s WineMaker International Amateur Wine Competition judging, I was reminded of how little thought is given to closures. Winemaking problems notwithstanding, this could confirm the fact that I found far too many wines to be oxidized. There were recycled screw caps, both aluminum from wine bottles and plastic from water bottles, bar-top corks, cheap synthetics and even poor-grade corks, both natural and agglomerated. Unless you bottle wine today and start drinking it “tomorrow” with no intent of aging, these closures are not recommended for wine meant for aging, even for as little as six months, and should never be used for shipping wine to a competition across the country where temperatures can swing wildly. Here, we review the different types of closures available to home winemakers with a view to understanding oxygen permeability and the impact on wine quality and aging potential. Let’s start with an overview of how oxygen works its way in bottled wine. Oxygen in bottled wine There are three sources of oxygen that can affect wine quality