by Robin Obert

One area of wine knowledge that is very misunderstood has to do with wine closures. This month we are going to explore some myths and other fun information.

Since we explored corks last month I want to begin with a few myths about corks and wine. Do you believe that you must typically uncork or decant your red wines to pull their best attributes forward? If you do, you may be wrong. Because of the modern processes we use today, really, only 15% – 20% need to breath. This is not a forum where we will discuss aeration devices or techniques. Just know that not all red wines need time to mellow. In my life, I have experienced many, many wines that improve as they sit in the glass. So, please know this is not necessarily a blanket statement.

This is a great time to plug this question in. Did you know that your wine drastically changes the longer it sits in your glass? My challenge to you is to pour a glass of wine and taste it about every fifteen minutes. You will be amazed at how much it will change and evolve over an hour’s time. We will go into stemware at a later date but that too makes a significant difference in the flavor and aroma of the wine. I digress, that will be a topic for later articles.

Is it corked? Smell the cork, it will tell you if the wine is good or not… NO!!! The cork really does not reveal much of anything. I promise! Although a cork should smell a bit earthy or woody those odors have very little to do with the quality of the wine. Knowing this, it’s important to understand why it’s important to understand this concept. A “corked” wine isn’t caused by a bad cork. The wine is actually spoiled by bacteria 2, 4, 6 Trichloroanisole (try saying that three times really fast)! This is also known as TCA. These bacteria infect the wines through the cork, and, not just natural cork, screw caps (also known as Stelvin enclosures) and synthetic corks can also be contaminated with TCA as well. Remember, it’s the bacteria infecting the wine through the closure, not just the natural cork itself. So, what can we really surmise from the actual cork itself? Well, we can learn who produced it and sometimes even the vintage year. We can also see indications of improper storage. A dry cork signifies poor storage methods.

Next month we are going to delve further into wine closures. Sorry, I’m out of space. I can go on for days about this subject! We are going to go more into detail about screw caps and wine opening history and etiquette. Until then CHEERS!