Monday, February 19, 2018


There was a semi-interesting article from The SOMM Journal being circulated around TWWIAGE last week.  Dr. Paulo Lopes, Research and Development Manager at Amorim Cork, recently published the results of research he has been conducting into the merits of cork as a wine bottle closure.  Without going into the nuts and bolts of the process of oxidation, the gist of the article was that cork does not breathe; the only oxygen that diffuses into wine is the air trapped in a cork's nooks and crannies.  In a nutshell, or a screw cap, perhaps, the article asserts that it makes no difference if a wine is stored upright or lying on its side.  Furthermore, the article claims that it is very "liberating" when wine-myths are debunked by science.  Aah, I feel so free now.
Dr. Dick Peterson, an early California-wine industry innovator, has always maintained, well, at least since the early 1960s, that sound corks do not breathe air.  Dr. P even has a great quote about the breathlessness of cork, "Show me a cork that breathes and I'll show you a bottle of vinegar."  I'm a little sceptical of the whole premise, but I'll trust the good doctor on this.
My illustrative photograph is of a sparkling-wine cork that came out of a bottle of Chandon étoile that I popped open last Friday night.  I had assumed that the cork had done its job and had sealed the bottle perfectly, and anaerobically.  (The article states that, "the classic mushroom shape of a sparkling-wine cork is formed by its contact with CO2."  Now that's interesting.)  This particular mushroom-shaped cork had managed to transfer something to the wine though, not air but 2,4,6-Trichloroanisole (TCA).  I reluctantly poured the entire, tainted bottle down the sink.  Hate when that happens.  Still, there is a happy ending.  Celebrating Vinomaker's birthday last night, a day early, I ordered a bottle of étoile at a restaurant and it was delicious.
So what does all this fuss about the oxygen transfer rate (OTR) of cork mean to the average consumer?  In my opinion, not much.  None of the information in the article is going to change anything about my wine buying/storing/drinking habits.  Some people just love to do studies and write definitive articles about their findings.  And it always helps when their findings reinforce the science behind the product they are promoting.  Ta da!
Oh, and Happy Birthday Vinomaker!


Dennis Tsiorbas said...

VG: Wow you're free of 'worry', and the corked wines are free of air, and some of us have traditions free of science.

Vinogirl said...

NHW: Yes, totally unburdened, inhibited...apparently science will do that for a wine drinker. Aren't we lucky? Tradition be damned!