There's nothing worse than sitting down to enjoy a relaxing glass of your favourite vino, only to have the cork break or crumble in the bottle, creating devastating scenes as you try to rescue the bottle from dry cork fragments. But if you want to avoid cork-dust wine, it turns out that storage is more important than you think.
Yep, there's a very good reason why wine is often kept lying down in wine racks.
'Bottles of wine should be stored horizontally to keep the wine in contact with the cork and help prevent the cork from drying out,' wine critic and writer Joanna Simon told Cosmopolitan.
If the cork is left to go dry, it can become brittle. This can lead to those little pieces of cork floating around in your wine glass. It's a common problem which actually has nothing to do with the wine being corked.
As well as being susceptible to drying out if stored incorrectly, corks are also pretty breakable. 'Corks can become crumbly and friable with age – it being a natural product,' Simon added, noting that the tools you use to crack open a bottle can be crucial too. 'Poor corkscrews, with a sharp bevelled edge, rather than a smooth, rounded one, are more likely to break corks.'
Corked wine is often used to describe wine that smells or tastes bad, but the term relates specifically to the cork itself. 'Most corked wines, including most of the worst, most musty, dank smelling wines, are the result of the cork being tainted with a very powerful chemical compound known as TCA,' Simon explained.
'This transfers from the cork to the wine. The main way it gets into the cork is when the cork is being processed and is treated with chlorinated anti-fungal products.'
And sadly, it's not a problem that is easy to solve. 'A corked wine can't be "cured", so there is nothing the poor wine drinker can do about.'
The best way to avoid any cork-related wine issues? Stick to screw caps. And if you are saving that special bottle of red with a cork top, keep it horizontal.
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