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K5MOW
04-03-2011, 10:09 AM
What do all of you think about useing polymer-based synthetic wine corks for mead. If I used this kind of cork then the wine bottles could be stored upright.

Thanks Roger

Medsen Fey
04-03-2011, 07:12 PM
Try a search for "synthetic cork" to see if that gives you some answers. Several threads are in the Patron's area. The issue is quite debatable and evidence from tests with meads is almost non-existent.

yasuke
04-04-2011, 01:46 AM
I highly recommend synthetic corks and I bottle entirely in them and Zorks.

K5MOW
04-04-2011, 06:50 AM
Thanks so much for the infomation.

Roger

Medsen Fey
04-04-2011, 09:18 AM
I, on the other hand, do not recommend synthetic corks. The AWRI closure trial showed synthetic corks to allow the greatest oxygen transmission of any of the closures tested. Now not all synthetic corks are created equal - some (Nomacork, iirc? ) were comparable to the various cork products tested while some of the others were quite poor. Of course this testing with white wines was done 10 years ago, and the quality of synthetics corks has likely continued to improve. What's more, traditional meads in particular seem less oxidation-prone than white wines, so bottling a traditional mead with synthetic cork might work just fine.

Without some further data, I'd be hesitant to put my melomels or braggots under synthetic cork. This would be a neat thing to try some comparison on when bottling. I've been doing some testing with natural cork, Zork, and crown caps. Perhaps on my next iteration of testing, I'll try some synthetic cork.

I'll take the time now to encourage anyone interested in pushing the mead frontier forward to think about testing this particular issue - it could make a huge difference for the commercial mead industry.

Dan McFeeley
04-04-2011, 02:04 PM
Interesting info! So is the wine industry looking at the use of synthetic corks as something to be used for wines not meant for aging, but for relatively quick consumption?

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Medsen Fey
04-04-2011, 04:11 PM
So is the wine industry looking at the use of synthetic corks as something to be used for wines not meant for aging,...


I'd say that has been the rule. That's not to say it may not be changing.

There are some neat charts from the AWRI study (http://corkqc.com/currentresearch/Micro-Oxidation/AWRIClosuireRecap.pdf) on the corkqc site. And the image below also tells the tale - the bottle on the far left is the Stelvin screw cap (ROTE). I'd like to know which brand of cork was next to it as it seems it worked as well as the screw cap.

There is also some good info on the wineanorak site (http://www.wineanorak.com/closuretrial.htm).

However, closure data is a moving target. Supremecorq reports a more-recent comparison (http://www.supremecorq.com/images/pdf/b609a_AWRI-SupremeCorq-X2-Italiano-24months.pdf) on a 2007 wine done with the AWRI showing excellent performance of their synthetic cork. So the more time that goes by, the more likely it is that a synthetic closure will be as good as or better than a top quality cork. In addition, the cork manufacturers continue to improve their products, and have learned how to eliminate (or minimize) the risk of TCA, and some are using coatings to insure consistency of performance.

The ultimate good news here is that all of the closures are being pushed to get better and cheaper, and we, the home wine/mead making community get to reap the benefits. :)

tycoon
04-04-2011, 05:00 PM
Thank you Medsen for providing such an interesting link!

I noted, however, that the AWRI study only kept the wines for 2 years. It would be interesting to see what happens after 5 or ten years of keeping the wine in a bottle in terms of taste, etc. Many oak-aged red wines with high tannins gain a lot by being kept for several years in bottles sealed with (good quality) natural cork.

The conclusion of the study seems quite devastating for the use of screw caps on wines (or meads?) that are to be aged for several years.

Medsen Fey
04-04-2011, 05:25 PM
I noted, however, that the AWRI study only kept the wines for 2 years. It would be interesting to see what happens after 5 or ten years of keeping the wine in a bottle in terms of taste, etc....

If you'll look at that image I posted, you'll see the comparison of the color change over a 10-year period. Even 10 years did not cause browning of the ROTE closure (or the cork next to it). I remember reading somewhere (though I confess I can't remember where) that they tasted some New Zealand white wine at 10 years under ROTE and found it to have retained all its fruitiness - a remarkable achievement.



The conclusion of the study seems quite devastating for the use of screw caps on wines (or meads?) that are to be aged for several years.

I wouldn't say that either. In fact a large chunk of the market (even some very high end wines) has decided that you can age white wines for long periods under ROTE closures. You may, however, have to adjust your practices a bit to prevent reductive odor from developing and that may include copper treatment, leaving a bit more air-filled headspace in bottles, or using ROTE closures with a lining that permits a bit more O2 transmission. People are successfully using ROTE closures for white wine all over the place.

Red wines have been slower to incorporate the ROTE closures. I suspect that we will see more in the future as they master how much O2 is needed for acceptable maturation without reductive odors. They may well be able to have red wines that will age for centuries.

By the time my kids are grown, we'll probably know for sure. ;D