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Wine Wisdoms #36: Broken Corks? Don’t Stress

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009 at 12:42:16 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Broken Cork

Corks can break and crumble on old wines, or when a clunky corkscrew causes a problem. Unfortunately this often leads people to panic: Oh no! My wine is ruined! It’s corked!

Don’t stress. If the cork breaks in half and the remaining half is stil intact, simply give it another go and see if you can extract the rest. If the cork has completely crumbled, the best thing to do is to push the pieces into the bottle so they don’t block the neck. Most likely, the wine won’t be harmed by the cork. Pour the wine and give it a smell to look for off-aromas.  If the cork is tainted, the wine smells musty, like wet newspaper, or it has no smell. In this case, you’ll have to discard the bottle. If the wine smells fine, just ignore those pesky cork pieces and pull them out as you pour.

Having a great corkscrew and a humidity-controlled wine cellar (to keep the corks moist) are two great defendants against broken corks. We offer a wide assortment of wine openers and corkscrews, wine cellars, and wine refrigerators, so you never have to deal with broken corks!

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7 Responses to “Wine Wisdoms #36: Broken Corks? Don’t Stress”

  1. 1 Theresa Skwarek said:

    If the cork has been discolored does that mean the wine is automatically bad – even if it smells ok?


  2. Hi Theresa, thanks for the comment. As long as the wine smells OK, there shouldn’t be anything wrong with it.

  3. Not sure if Theresa meant just the bottom of the cork being discolored or maybe half way up the cork? I had some Italian wine that seemed to have a small seppage problem. The cork was not discolored all the way up but a couple bottles were pretty close. This sort of meant to be that either the corks dried out (not enough humidty or the bottles were stored uprigth for some time) or they were “second class” corks. Your thoughts?

    Thanks, Chuck

  4. My Grandfather made Dandelion wine and I have two bottles from 1942 sealed with bottle caps.The wine looks clear do you think it might still be good.


  5. 5 Theresa Skwarek said:

    Hi – Thanks for the response to the dicolored cork question. I meant the bottom portion of the cork, a little bit up the sides-but not half way up.

  6. @Chuck It could be either of those problems but I think the best way to know is to open the wine and smell it. If it smells bad, it most likely is. It’s possible for the cork to have an issue and not the wine and it’s also possible for the cork to infect the whole bottle. The only way to know for sure, is to give it a try!

    @Bob Mazza I would be worried about that bottle because we’re talking about decades of age. Most wine cannot age that long and retain aromatics and flavors, only wines of top quality. The best way to know is to open it and find out!

    @Theresa Same as I told Chuck and Bob, I would open the wine and trust your own judgment. It could be damaged or it could be healthy.

  7. 7 Daniel Fogarty said:

    @ Bob M. As a maker of Dandelion wine, I can tell you it just comes down to the recipe your grandfather used. The one that I have used the most often, calls for honey. With time (20+ years), it becomes more mead-like and clear. The only batch that didn’t meet my standards was still well-received by others and made a great summer drink mixed with vodka and soda. Good luck!

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