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Reply to "how do those synthetic corks fair compared to real cork?"

Originally posted by Ogopogo DUDE:
i have seen those more expensive marilyn merlot series of bottles that are in a display box that have a red molten (at the time of dipping the bottle into) solidified coating..........and i asked the liquor store expert about why these diplay wines are not displayed on their sides due to my concerns of the corks drying out,etc...... and he replied that they are coated specifically in the liquid coating that solidifies and it is essentially like a screw cap from that point on. This is why these bottles can be upright for display purposes...

I don't know what Marilyn is coated with, I presume wax. If that's the case, what he said is utter BS. Wax is highly oxygen permeable, and anyway, cork is not, regardless of capsule or coating. You could but a glob of Tutti Frutti chewing gum on top the cork, or wrap it it in lead capsule without any appreciable effect on oxtrans rate.

That said, I also don't believe that corks dry out and fail. In fact, the opposite seems apparent to me, that they get saturated (with wine) and loose their spring compression against the bottleneck (i.e. fail).

Bark gets dried to about 7% or 10% humidity before punching for stoppers, and the boiling process that follows only raises humidity of the best corks to about 20%. The bark is pretty water impermeable, which is exactly why it has been the stopper of choice for so long.

Additionally, if you look at corks that have been pulled and are just sitting around, I guarantee you that every one is swollen beyond its newly pulled dimensions. That's exactly the compressive force that does the sealing in the neck, and you can see it in corks that have not been in contact with wine for some time. I've never, ever, seen a cork shrink.

When I see a failed cork, it is invariably saturated with wine, and has lost its compression on the bottle neck.

I have maintained for years that the practice of storing wine horizontally is a spatial economy. You can actually store more bottles in a given space if they are stacked horizontally than if they are upright (vertical). Hell, you can't even stack upright without shelving, not to mention that upright storage makes counting and ID-ing bottles more difficult!

I've seen lots of bottles stacked upon themselves, without any racking (very economical) in caves in Paris and Rome, which gave rise to my position that it has everything to do with space, and nothing with the cork.