GUIDE FOR USING WINE CORKS

A cork is a cork right? Actually, corks are available in a wide variety of compositions, styles and sizes—and yes, in this context it does matter. There has been some advancement in the traditional art of cork manufacturing. Nova Cork is an example of such advancement. Nova Cork is the result of intense scientific and technological research. This cork combines the best in raw materials and the experience of a leading cork manufacturer.

Cork Rules

  • Never soak or boil your corks. This may have been recommended in the past, but today, doing so will compromise its composition and limit its function. In short, this could ruin your wine.
  • When using a straight cork, the device should squeeze the cork to a minimum tightness of 15.5 mm.
  • Insertion should be swift to avoid damaging the bottom of the cork and the bottle neck should be dry to avoid contamination.
  • There must be a minimum of 15 mm between the stopper and the wine, to allow room for the wine to expand with an increase in temperature.
  • The corked bottle should be left standing for a specified amount of time (usually a week is sufficient) to allow residual gas to escape.
  • The corking device should be checked regularly and maintained.

Cork Types

The Bellcork Straight Cork

"The Bellcork" is made of natural cork treated with a collamated process.It is made from a cork of a larger diameter that is then polished to the nominal standard diameter of 24 mm The glue used in this process has improved adhesion, thus avoiding easy detachment of cork particles. This process combined with the surface treatment gives the "Bellcork" cork improved sealing ability.

All products used conform to the international safety standards food for food products.

The Natural Straight Cork (Diamond)

The Natural straight wine cork is a cylindrical stopper punched directly from the cork, manually or automatically. It is a 100% natural product.

The stopper punched from cork is reduced to the correct length. The stoppers am then sorted by an optical cork sorting machine, before being washed in an automated system using a hydrogen peroxide based solution. They are then dried in sterilized air and sorted manually into finer classes. The process ends with branding in accordance with the customers' specifications and a surface treatment suitable for the intended use. The natural straight wine corks are dispatched in polyethylene bags in an atmosphere of sulphur dioxide.

The Agglomerate Straight Cork

The agglomerate cork is a cork closure made of agglomerate cork obtained by single molding or extrusion and produced from granules of a caliber of 3 to 7 mm. They are not intended to replace good quality natural wine corks which remain the best option for a good quality wine.

The characteristics of agglomerate cork differ from natural wine corks - production methods, specific gravity and visual appearance. Like natural cork agglomerate cork has high resilience and offers a good seal.

Nomacorc® (synthetic cork)

Nomacorc® is a highly elastic, polymer-based, medium density, chemically inert, co-extruded still wine closure. It's technically engineered to be used with all automatic four-segment sliding jaw type corking equipment and formulated to meet the critical performance standards of the wine industry.

Find out more about Nomacorc here

Guide To Choosing Corks

Nova Cork # 7 Short

Economical good quality composite corks. New technology has made these corks better than older type agglomerate corks. Nova Corks should be used for medium term storage of wines—18 months or less. These corks are great if you are making a batch of wine for a party and you know that the wine will be consumed in a fairly short period of time. 38 mm (length) x 21 mm (diameter). Fits most standard 375 ml and 200 ml bottles.

Nova Cork # 8 Short

Economical good quality agglomerate corks. New technology has made these corks better than older type agglomerate corks. Nova Corks should be used for medium term storage of wines—18 months or less. These corks are great if you are making a batch of wine for a party and you know that the wine will be consumed in a fairly short period of time. 38 mm (length) x 22 mm (diameter). Fits most standard 750 ml and 375 ml bottles.

Nova Cork # 9 Short

Economical good quality agglomerate corks. New technology has made these corks better than older type agglomerate corks. Nova Corks should be used for short term storage of wines—18 months or less. These corks are great if you are making a batch of wine for a party and you know that the wine will be consumed in a fairly short period of time. 38 mm (length) x 24 mm (diameter). Fits most standard 750 ml bottles.

Agglomerate Winery Grade # 9 Long

A winery grade composite cork. These corks look more attractive because of their longer length. Good for storage up to 18 months. Use in bordeaux style bottles. Fits most standard 750 ml bottles.

Bellcork # 9 Long

If you prefer whole natural cork over composites and synthetics then Bellcork is an economical alternative. Recommended for medium term storage of 3 years or less. Fits most standard 750 ml bottles.

Diamond Cork # 9 Long

A natural cork. No fillers or cosmetics applied. A quality cork which can be used for your better wines. Recommended for storage up to 5 years. Fits most standard 750 ml bottles.

Synthetic Corks # 9 short

We carry Nomacorc® which we believe to be the best of the synthetic corks available.These closures are starting to make an impact on the wine market. The stoppers are not cork at all but are made from a synthetic material. They seal very tightly allowing no air to enter the bottle.The benefits? They are less expensive than an equivalent winery grade cork. They eliminate "corked" wine which is a major concern for both commercial and home wine makers. They look like natural cork and they don't need to be stored on a wine rack but can be stored upright. Fits most standard 750 ml bottles.

Read more about Nomacorc here

We recommend Nomacorc for storage of your premium wines.

Getting Technical

Cork material is a subset of generic cork tissue, harvested for commercial use primarily from the Cork oak tree (Quercus suber), with Portugal producing nearly 50% of the corks in the world. The increasing demand for cork product makes Portugal a leader in both quantity and quality.

A cork tree can be harvested a dozen times in its lifetime. Cork trees live from 150-250 years. Virgin cork (or "male" cork) is the first cork cut from generally 25 year-old trees. Another 10-12 years is required for the second harvest. Harvesting a cork tree requires very skilled labour. A special axe is used to cut into the bark and then used as a lever to gently pry the cork off the tree. The cork is peeled off in large panels from the main sections of the trunk, including the large branches. About a third of the bark can be harvested from the tree at one time. Cork harvesting is done entirely without machinery.

The fact that corks are made of the bark harvested from living trees has lead European environmentalists to encourage the use of cork over other, less natural, alternatives. The sustainability of its production and the easy recycling of cork products and by-products are two of its most distinctive aspects.

Top quality corks are quite expensive, so less expensive brands of wines have switched to synthetic plastic stoppers, screw caps or other closures. However, on the down side, both synthetic stoppers and screw caps present numerous problems such as oxidation and high levels of SO2, potentially giving wines a rotten egg smell. Cork demand has increased due to a larger portion of wine being sealed with cork rather than being sold in bulk and a worldwide increase in the consumption of wine.

Cork, which comes in a variety of shades and tones, finds various applications, thanks to its resistance, elastic and waterproof properties. Cork has many uses other than in the wine industry. It is used in making insoles for the footwear industry or agglomerates used in "acoustic" insulation as well as various flooring applications.

Cork alone has outstanding traits such as good compression and recovery, non-permeability, low bulk specific gravity, heat insulation, vibration dampening, a high abrasion coefficient, sound absorption and much more. These are some of the reasons why Cork is a material very much in demand.