Question about corks

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Scrow

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So I recently bought some plain wine bottles (I guess they are standard bottles) and some #8 corks. I plan to bottle my apple wine for about 5-6 months, and wanted to know how well the #8 corks are going to work out.

The guy at the LHBS said that #9 is the industry-standard cork, and it has a much tighter fit, but can be harder to get in with a corker. He said the #8 would work fine for short-term storage, and was easier to fit in the bottles, but if I planned to store for more than a few months, they would not form a tight enough seal.

Can someone shed some light on what I am working with? I mean, I can go back and buy some #9 corks, as they are like a dime each, but I don't want to spend six hours trying to force them into the bottles. Here is my corker for reference (the cheap kind):



Extra question: They also have "synthetic corks" that look basically like this:



What are the pros/cons of using this type of cork? I just want to go into the bottling process as knowledgeable as possible. Thanks all!

Edit: The synthetic cork I showed isn't exactly how they look. They look almost like some type of rubber or something.
 

Yooper

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Ah, you have the infamous "mallet" corker. You definitely want to use #8 corks with that. And, I hate to say it, but you'll be lucky to get them in. I've owned 4 corkers, and finally bought a floor corker a couple of years ago.

That corker will not really compress a cork, and then you'll have to gently use a mallet to get it in. I don't think there is any way you'll get a #9 in that way. So, if that's the corker you're using, you'll need #8s.

Does your LHBS rent a floor corker? Those things are like magic! They compress the cork, and insert, so easily. If not, and you have a little money to spend, you could try a double level hand corker. Those do compress the cork, and while a pain to use, they are doable and you could use #9 corks. They cost around $25, and are worth it. I spent extra and bought a Gilda corker, but found that the double lever corker worked better. The corks still didn't go in all the way, but only stayed out about 1/4" so it worked.

I prefer #9 corks. Your store is right- they are bigger, and will preserve the wine better and longer. If you have to use #8, though, you can. It's not ideal, but they will seal.

I found that first quality cork is definitely my preference, but I used synthetic ones, too with good results. There were Normacork or something like that. It's only been a couple of years, but they haven't failed yet.
 
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Scrow

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Ok, that gives me something to think about. I didn't have the money at the time to get the more expensive corker, but I will certainly invest in one. You think my apple wine will be fine for up to six months with the #8 corks?

Also, are there different types of corks, or just different sizes? Are there better/worse styles of corks? And are there any pros/cons to synthetic corks? Why use or not use synthetic corks?
 

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Ok, that gives me something to think about. I didn't have the money at the time to get the more expensive corker, but I will certainly invest in one. You think my apple wine will be fine for up to six months with the #8 corks?

Also, are there different types of corks, or just different sizes? Are there better/worse styles of corks? And are there any pros/cons to synthetic corks? Why use or not use synthetic corks?
For 6-12 months, you should be fine with the smaller corks. Just check to make sure they don't leak. If they do, use those up first!

There are different types of corks, and different sizes. There are agglormated corks (I don't know how to spell that!), which is cork pressed together; whole corks; synthetic corks; a mix of synthetic and real corks; etc. I usually buy the "first quality #9 corks"- not the most expensive, but not cheap. I'm not sure of all of the pros and cons on synthetic corks. I just use the ones I do because I've been happy so far with how they compress, how they seal my bottles, etc. I don't have any long term results, though- my oldest wines right now are in the 3-4 year old range. I'm going to be aging some wines now (more expensive kit wines) but the stuff I'm drinking now are fruit wines from '06 mostly. No infections, no oxidation, no leakers, etc, so far with the "regular" #9 corks.
 
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Scrow

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Very good. Thank you for the input! Is all wine made better through aging? Say I left a bottle of EdWort's for like 4 years with a good cork, would it be significantly better than a bottle that is, say, 1 year?
 

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Very good. Thank you for the input! Is all wine made better through aging? Say I left a bottle of EdWort's for like 4 years with a good cork, would it be significantly better than a bottle that is, say, 1 year?
Well, no. Don't get me wrong- Ed gave me some 14 month old apfelwein that was great! But aging isn't just making a wine/cider/mead older. It's about mellowing the amount of tannins, the heat of the alcohol, and the flavor of the wine. In a high ABV, tannic wine (like a big red wine), it takes quite a while for the flavors to meld, for the "hotness" to go away, and for the tannins to mellow. For wines that are oaked, that takes some time for the oakiness to smooth out.

For low ABV, low tannin wines, drink them young! The fruitiness fades with time, and you can end up with a boring fairly tasteless white wine as a result. So, ciders and lower ABV white wines should be enjoyed fairly young, before they have a chance to lose flavor.

Meads are aged because they take a while for the "hotness" to fade, too. It might take a couple of years before they reach their peak.

I like to open a bottle every once in a while, and say, "Hmmm. Is this still improving, or is it on the way down?" For the reds, they seem to still be improving or at their peak. The whites seem to peak in a couple of years, though. Ciders are really good up to about 2 years or so. Meads are good longer, but never lasted long enough for me to say, "Yep. This is the peak!"
 

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I'm glad this was posted...and answered. I am about to get corking apparatus and corks for my apfelwein and was looking at the mini corker. Thanks Yooper!
 

MikeBlick

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I ran into this problem too about a year ago with my first batch of wine. I solved the problem by using these things called Zork corks. They're this strange synthetic cork that looks kinda like a tasting cork on the inside and then has a seal that goes around the outside. They're really easy to install and you don't have to have a corker. They are a bit more expensive than corks however. So far they've held up really well and I've used them on 4 or 5 batches since.
 

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Which lever corker to get? I see Portugese style for ~$17 and Italian style for $26. I see the Italian has adjustable depth, needed and worth the extra $?
 

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Which lever corker to get? I see Portugese style for ~$17 and Italian style for $26. I see the Italian has adjustable depth, needed and worth the extra $?
I honestly don't know. I just used the "Double handled lever corker", and that was the name on the box. It was adjustable, though. You could screw down (or up) for the proper depth. I was able use it by myself, by putting the bottle between my knees (kneeling on the floor) and corking. A stronger person could probably do it right on the countertop, or if you have a helper, have them hold the bottle while you cork it.

I don't know about those Zork corks. I've never used them. I'm very cautious, though. I'd hate to spend $150 on a wine kit, and three years of time to find out they didn't work so well.
 

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I like to open a bottle every once in a while, and say, "Hmmm. Is this still improving, or is it on the way down?" For the reds, they seem to still be improving or at their peak. The whites seem to peak in a couple of years, though. Ciders are really good up to about 2 years or so. Meads are good longer, but never lasted long enough for me to say, "Yep. This is the peak!"
Hey Yoop, thanks for these rough estimates. I have noticed that the whites and Edwort's Apfelwein get better with age but I wasn't sure how long to age them is best. I've not done any red wines yet.
 

ClutchDude

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I've always wondered, if you stabilize Edwort's with K-Meta and Sorbate, is the impact of those chemicals worth any longevity, taste or "aging" you would gain?

Anyways, slightly OnT, a floor corker is great. I used it to bottle up some Riseling a year ago and a few bottles every time I make Apfelwein.

I've used synthetic's only and, since the only thing that's been around long enough is some wine from a year ago, I can't complain. Nomacorc is the name.
 

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As I recall, K-Meta prevents it from turning to vinegar.

Pogo
 

EvilTOJ

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NO, k-meta is a stabilizer and microbe killer. If by saying 'prevent by turning into vinegar' means 'killing off acetobacter so it doesn't convert the alcohol to vinegar' then you're right.
 
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