Wine Storage (stand up for corks?...)

Discussion in 'UK Wine Forum' started by Jo Burns, Jun 11, 2018.

  1. An interesting headline from Drinks Business today; must admit I too missed the 2005 study! Have pasted in case of forum rules breach:

    11th June, 2018 by Patrick Schmitt

    Storing wine on its side won’t prevent corks drying out, and may even accelerate their degeneration, according to Amorim’s director of R&D, Dr. Miguel Cabral.
    During a discussion in Portugal last week, Cabral said that the headspace of a sealed bottle of wine was so moist that there was no need to place bottles on their side to keep the cork damp.

    “The cork will never dry out with almost 100% humidity in the headspace, so it is a myth that you need to store a bottle on its side,” he said.

    Continuing, he said that such humidity would ensure that the cork “won’t dry out if you store the bottle upright.”

    He also said that creating moist ambient conditions during wine storage was unnecessary for bottled wine (although for barrel cellars it is important to reduce evaporation).

    “The humidity of the environment around the bottle won’t have any influence, because the cork is influenced by the humidity inside the bottle,” he said, adding, “So the idea that you need to store wine in a damp cellar is another myth.”

    He then stated, “The myths are falling down one by one now the cork industry has started doing studies.”

    When asked later by the drinks business why wet corks in older wines are sometimes shrunken, he said that having the stopper permanently soaked by wine might actually accelerate the weakening of the cork’s cell structure.

    In other words, not only is it unnecessary to keep the cork wet, it may actually be bad for the stopper.

    Summing up, he said that such knowledge was nothing new in the scientific community.

    “The AWRI published a paper on this back in 2005, but the problem is that people don’t read research papers, they just want the news,” he commented.

    Finally, making his views clear, he stated, “The idea that storing a wine on its side to stop the cork drying out is bullsh•t.”

    Previously, he recorded that 95-95% humidity in the headspace was high enough to ensure the passage of phenolics as well as taints from the cork into the wine – which would explain the presence of cork-derived TCA in a wine that had been stored upright.

    As for factors that accelerate the evolution of wine in the bottle, aside from the failure of the seal – whatever the closure type – it is temperature that has the greatest affect, as higher temperatures speed up chemical reactions.

    The study referenced by Cabral was published in 2005 by Skouroumounis et al from the Australian Wine Research Institute and it is entitled, ‘The impact of closure type and storage conditions on the composition, colour and flavour properties of a Riesling and a wooded Chardonnay wine during five years’ storage.

    In the abstract it states “The bottle orientation during storage under the conditions of this study had little effect on the composition and sensory properties of the wines examined.”

    Towards the end of the study it is noted that “temperature can have a direct effect on colour development through accelerating chemical reactions even without significant oxygen ingress.”

    As for the condition of the corks used in the study, it records, “The two corks examined here differed substantially in their estimated wetness but appeared to perform similarly overall.”

    Cabral also told db that the interaction of wine and phenolics from cork stoppers produces a newly-identified set of compounds called Corklins that affect a wine’s colour and bitterness.
    Paul Benny likes this.
  2. Tom Cannavan

    Tom Cannavan Administrator

    I have a fairly humid cellar and find that old corks that have been in there for 20 years+ can be pretty crumbly, often soft and splitting in two with even the most delicate pressure of a corkscrew. I guess the idea that any material being permanently soaked in liquid for two decades will be weakened does seem reasonable.
  3. It's a compelling argument. Compromised corks are my biggest bugbear behind TCA.

    I can't help but think the most obvious historical reason for storing bottles horizontally is convenience/space efficiency.
  4. Biggest hate is when corks disintegrate upon inserting the cork-screw.
  5. Tom Cannavan

    Tom Cannavan Administrator

    Interestingly, two wines i opened recently were both 2002 chardonnays, both in my cellar since 2004 or so, both within a foot or two of each other in the racks. The Meursault from Domaine Matrot a perfect cork that pulled out in one perfect piece, the Bouchard Finlayson Reserve cork crumbled to nothing as soon as the corkscrew touched it, drilling a hole with zero solidity to extract it. So must be down to original quality of cork I presume.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
    Graham Harvey likes this.
  6. Agree. What did you do then? Push the cork into the wine, pour wine into a decanter, skim the little bits of cork from the top?

    I once previously tried to use a coffee filter paper which imparted its own taste that was not pleasing.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 12, 2018
  7. Tom Cannavan

    Tom Cannavan Administrator

    I confess, most of it went down the sink. I'm on holiday with no access to useful implements to extract, and it was *so* crumbly that every attempt to push the doughnut of cork that remained around the hole punched through the centre just sent even more fragments into the wine. I poured two glasses through paper kitchen towel (Sorry purists, but needs must) and it tasted really good, but was still so full of tiny cork dust fragments that the rest went down the sink.
  8. Denis Mortet Meursault??
  9. Good quality paper towel or coffee filters that leave no taste have worked well the few times I’ve needed them.
    I have a metal sieve as part of a decanter so pop the towel / filter on that so it doesn’t split even under load.

    Blitz is the towel of choice when I didn’t have the filter, :)
  10. Hence the success of England football teams up to U21 level, yet their relative failure at full level?

    I’d guess that the Scottish boys are beyond permanently soaked.....
    Keith Prothero likes this.
  11. Tom Cannavan

    Tom Cannavan Administrator

    Second bottle moment: now corrected
  12. At least your Domaine Matrot wasn't premoxed (I presume.)
  13. A non oxidised Matrot 02 seems almost as improbable as a Mortet Meursault.
  14. Tom’s was a 2004. We drank a Matrot 2004 Puligny Chalumeaux a few weeks ago and it was superb.
  15. How splendid, They can be magnificent but went off at the drop of a hat even before premox was generally seen.
  16. Tom Cannavan

    Tom Cannavan Administrator

    No out of the oxordinary character in this bottle i must say.

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