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All About Wine Corks and Mead

Corks are a really big deal in the grape wine industry. There are a few reasons for this including the fact that wine will often be aged in racks for decades. And when you are aging wine this long the cork is critical.

But, who wants to store mead for decades? It just doesn't happen, nor does it need to .

So, in this mini tutorial I will give you some solid advice on corks, what they are about and which ones to use when it comes to bottling mead.

 

 

Bottle sizes:

Two different size bottles for Mead

First off let's talk a bit about bottle sizes. The standard wine bottle is a 750 millilter size. The lesser sizes are the half that 375 milliliter and the larger size 1.5 Liter bottle. The good news about these bottles is that they all have the same size opening in the top so all the cork rules stay the same.

For Mead you will probably only use the standard 750 or the smaller 375 ml bottles. The picture at left shows these two sizes.

The larger bottle is the standard. The smaller bottle is mostly used for thicker and sweeter meads that are more like dessert meads.

 

Cork Sizes:

 

Two common Cork sizes

There are two cork sizes, #8 and #9. The number eight cork is slightly smaller and the number nine is slightly larger of the two.

(Larger meaning the Diameter of the cork)

When bottling mead you really can use either size. But there are some small differences. Typically if you plan on aging your mead up to about two years then you choose the #8 cork. If you plan on aging more than two years then you go with the #9 cork for the tighter fit.

 

Cork Length: Corks do come in different lengths and it does have somewhat of an effect on the longevity of the mead. The more common cork length is 1 3/4 inches. This is a good size and the size that I use in my mead making. Also common is the 1 1/2 long corks. Either of these lengths is quite perfect for mead.

 

Synthetic or Natural Cork?

This really is a matter of preference. Here are a few of the differences.

Personally I love the natural corks. There is just a feel about them and the sound of them when you remove them is quite wonderful. It is part of the mead opening experience. Synthetic corks are however more than adequate for mead and regular wine.

Differences and Comparison:

  • Natural corks are easier to insert and to remove
  • Natural corks actually contract and expand with the bottle over time causing a better long term fit
  • Natural corks breathe ever so slightly which is very important for long term aging of wine and mead. This means that they allow a very very small amount of air transfer in and out of the bottle over time.Synthetic corks don't breathe. So, mead in the bottle with a synthetic cork doesn't really age.

Getting the Corks in the bottles

The corks are actually quite a bit larger in diameter than the opening in the bottles. We all know that you need a corkscrew to get those corks out. But how do you get the corks into the bottle? You need a piece of equipment. The standard tool for this is called the Double Lever Corker:

a corker

Easy Double Lever Corker

 

Recycled Corks! Okay, they are very cheap and readily available. But don't use them for mead or wine. They are meant for arts and crafts! So, even though they are cheap you should still avoid them.

 

So! Need me to decide for you?

Use natural corks that are #9 and 1 3/4 in length. Easy enough. And you are good to go!

Wine cork

#9 Straight Corks 15/16" x 1 3/4" Bag of 30

 

Tasting Corks

A tasting cork

They are also sometimes called mushroom corks. These are made for use after you have opened your mead or wine but you don't finish the bottle. The tasting cork is a temporary cork you insert that will extend the life of the mead by a few days so you can finish it later. This is a good investment if you drink your mead in small amounts. Say a glass here and a glass there. This way you don't lose the rest of the bottle.

 

Tasting corks

Black Plastic Top Tasting Cork. Bag of 12

 

Dragon Goblet

Verdugo Gift Co Royal Dragon Goblet

  • Polyresin base; stainless steel cup
  • Inner cup hand wash only
  • 4" diameter x 7 3/8" high
  • Fantasy comes to life in every intricate detail of rich scrollwork, gleaming gems and a dragons he
  • Crafted of durable resin with removable stainless steel inner drinking cup

 

 


Cherry Melomel

Make a Cherry Mead (Melomel) - This is an intermediate recipe that uses a few common wine making chemicals. But I do have an option for beginners who don't want to use the chemicals and keep it real basic yet still get a nice cherry mead: Make a Cherry Mead

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