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Home Brew Forums > Wine, Mead, Cider, Sake & Soda > Mead Forum > Bottling: Cork vs Caps
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Old 12-15-2009, 04:55 PM   #11
Yan
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My $.02:

Caps are okay for white wines. Not very long aged reds or meads, and there are a number of commerial red wines I really don't like to drink anymore because of the switch. They're okay for a while, but they need to breath, in my opinion. It's not an excuse for tradition; there are a number of wineries in Canada that use new synthetic foam corks for their reds because they're porous. I think there is a lot more going on here than simple oxidation if the industry is recognizing it. There are many odd, often undesirable volatile compounds in a young red wine or a mead, like fusels, possible diacetyl, terpenes, alcohol acetates, esters etc. These chemicals, without anywhere to go will either polymerize, react with something else or just stay there. I have a hard time believing that heavier volatile organic compounds will just degas with the CO2. These compounds contribute to the flavour in positive and negative ways, and it's only reasonable to think that if over time they are allowed to dissipate somewhat, it might allow the wine or mead to mellow more than if these compounds had nowhere to go.

All in all, I use corks for meads because I like to hang on to the stuff for a long time before drinking, and having drank a lot of different wine for quite a few years (I live in a major wine region) I tend to think there really is a difference, based on what I've tasted, seen and conversations I've had with people in the industry. Caps are okay, up to a point. But there is just too much funky, volatile crap in a young mead to keep it closed up, in my opinion.

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Old 12-15-2009, 09:04 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yan View Post
...It's not an excuse for tradition; there are a number of wineries in Canada that use new synthetic foam corks for their reds because they're porous. I think there is a lot more going on here than simple oxidation if the industry is recognizing it. ...
First off let me start by saying I completely agree with you.

I say it is an excuse for tradition, because unless it is a red that is meant to be aged there is no reason to use a cork instead of screw-top/synthetic/cap. I agree that the "breathing" needs to take place. As aging is basically slow reduction (read positive oxidation) and mellowing of tannins. So basically I would say the consensus is: if you are planning on drinking "X" within ~2 years use whatever is convenient. If you plan on aging or think you might want to for ~3+ years use a cork.

Remember using cork may result in TCA (cork taint). Caused by a fungus that is present in basically all cork but only making it into wine (or mead) in about 10% of bottles.

My experience is that I have found many commercial bottles with TCA working in wine tasting rooms, I open a lot of bottles. But in my 10+ years of wine making I don't think I have ever noticed it in one of my bottles. I have used natural cork in ever bottling except for one.

If you are unfamiliar with TCA it is when a wine smells like wet cardboard/wet dog when you open it. If you ever get a bottle smelling with this you should send it back (restaurant) or take it back to the store they should do an even exchange. Like I said it isn't really a fault it just happens with about 10% of wine.
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Old 12-16-2009, 04:11 AM   #13
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I'm going to cap mine in beer bottles for the first few batches. Mainly because I'm going to drink it and I don't think I'm going to have to much left over between batches. But in the future I'm going to have to look into a form of longer storage.

One advantage of using caps over corks is if you have an active fermentation going when you cap it won't push the cork out of the bottle if you cap it. You might end up with a hand grenade though.

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Old 12-16-2009, 07:27 PM   #14
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newb question -

When capping a wine bottle are the caps the same as beer bottle caps? Can I use the same capper? Or do I need special caps and a special capper. I've got my first mead in secondary right now, I'd like to put in wine bottles so I can give a few away easier, but I don't want to spring for a corker at this point in time.

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Old 12-16-2009, 07:56 PM   #15
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The caps are the same AFAIK, just make sure the wine bottle has a lip that will accept a cap. I use my drill press for capping & corking. I bought a capper on eBay that chucks in the drill. For corking I chuck a flat-headed bolt in the drill with a head just slightly smaller than the cork diameter. It pushes the corks right on in with minimal effort. I bought one of those $5 plastic hand corkers and if I need a guide I put the cork in the funnel portion of the hand corker and push it through with the drill press. No problems so far. And no, you don't turn the drill on...

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Old 12-16-2009, 11:20 PM   #16
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While we're on bottles and caps...what about P.E.T. bottles? Are they ok to use on meads or is the seal not enough since they are twist on?

My question here stems from the idea of oxidation. If you are not carbonating a mead there is oxygen in the head space of the bottle. Is that bad or is a little ok?

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Old 12-17-2009, 03:22 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcobbs View Post
...... And no, you don't turn the drill on...
LOL, I read your post and right up to the end I thought you were crazy. Good idea using the drill press.
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Old 12-17-2009, 09:33 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thebigo View Post
While we're on bottles and caps...what about P.E.T. bottles? Are they ok to use on meads or is the seal not enough since they are twist on?

My question here stems from the idea of oxidation. If you are not carbonating a mead there is oxygen in the head space of the bottle. Is that bad or is a little ok?
A little O2 introduced during bottling is inevitable unless you have a way to purge the bottles as they are being filled - and that's far beyond the scope of most home meadmakers. That small amount doesn't seem to adversely affect the mead, in my experience. However, using screw topped PET bottles generally isn't a good idea since the wall thickness of those bottles is actually thin enough to allow diffusion of oxygen from the air to the liquid inside your bottle. Eventually, a mead bottled in them will oxidize.
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Old 12-17-2009, 09:42 PM   #19
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I use PET bottles for beer and they work fine. Wouldn't trust them to age a mead.

As far as the drill press, my being crazy is entirely unrelated to how I cap bottles
Here's a thread on the capper I bought: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f35/dril...capper-150065/

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