Thursday, March 12, 2009

Re-usable Bottle Closures

I wrote previously about the re-usable plastic bottle closures that we're starting to use more and more at home. A couple of you asked to see them, and your wish is my command! We started out five years ago buying corks from the local winery supply store, and while they're not all that expensive, the cost does add up over time.

Plastic bottle closures and the "corkscrew."

None of our wine is intended for long-term storage. Most Touraine wines are made to be drunk young, within two or three years. They never last that long at our house. Because we don't have a proper wine cellar, storing wine for more than a few months, especially in the summer, is impractical and a waste of good wine. And it seems a waste of a natural resource (cork) to store wine for just a few days or weeks. I do save used corks to stoke fires in the wood stove since they burn very hot, but still.

About a year ago, a friend of ours gave us a little kit with plastic re-usable "corks" and a special screw; they're available in most of the stores around here. After we tried them out, we realized that we really no longer need to spend money on real corks.

Using the plastic closures is simple: we put them into a small bucket of hot water just prior to corking the bottles. This makes them supple so that they squeeze into the bottle easily. That's it. The same tool for inserting the cork is the one used to remove it.

You can see the corks on some of the bottles in my previous post.


  1. Wow, that's pretty cool!
    Hey, are you familiar with the travel show, Smart Travels With Rudy Maxa ? As I was eating my breakfast this morning, I was watching the show, and today it was "Burgundy and the Loire Valley"! A part of the show was dedicated to visiting vineyards/wineries, and another part was in Tours, during the annual garlic festival, I believe :)) Of course, I thought of you and Ken!

    Another part of the show was at Vézelay, which always thrills me... I was able to go there to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve the year that I lived in Paris... wow!


  2. that is ingenious! i wonder if i can find it here in the states. off to do a search...thanks for sharing. :)

  3. I have stored wines in S Wis in a closet that3 ranged from 70 to where I had to put a heater in to keep them at 35 in the winter - no damage noted. Here in Florida before I had a wine frig, the best I could keep them in the dark at 70+ most of the time. the frig gave out last summer so I found a a wine store store that keeps all at 60 or so so that is best. Again I never had a bad bottle or cork. I have been told that high temps (over 68 lets say) only speeds up the aging process. I would think your cellar would be just fine for mid 60 temps?

  4. The temperature in our cellier goes up to near 80 on hot summer days. But they say it's not so much the variation in temperature that damages wines, but sudden shifts. Wonder if that is true? At any rate, we have no need to keep wines for a long time because we like the local, fresh, young wines we get here.

  5. Wow – those plastic stoppers are ingenious. However, please, please, please don't ever think that by using natural cork you are wasting a natural resource. Quite the opposite. The cork forests of Spain and Portugal are some of the most interesting and most threatened wildlife habitats on earth, and the best way to sustain them is to continue to use natural cork. Cork got a really bad reputation because the manufacturers were sloppy in the past, but they have really sorted the quality problems out now, because they know they must continue to provide a useable product or their industry, lifestyle and countryside dies. Some of the rarest European mammals and birds live in the cork forests and unless we use cork, we will lose them.

    Ken: I know that when I worked in collections care for a heritage conservation organisation it was originally thought that it was the sudden changes and the extremes of temperature that caused the damage, so the historic houses were always brought up to comfort heat very slowly in the winter. Research later showed that this was close, but not quite true, and you could be much more radical about introducing heat, but there is definitely a desirable range for upper and lower temps and also for frequency of fluctuation, beyond which damage occurs, in either cold or hot temperatures. I would guess that the same principles apply to wine, because in both cases we are talking about the effect on chemical reactions in (mainly) organic substances.

  6. thanks, i was wondering what the corks & their opener looked like

  7. Susan, our problem with corks is that they cost a lot relative to the price of the bottle of wine we are putting them in. The cork costs about 10 centimes, and the wine in the bottle costs between one and three euros. The cost is especially high because the cork only stays in the bottle for a month or two before we open the bottle and discard it. Re-usable closures make a lot more sense in our case.

  8. Neat gadget, Walt! Thanks for the pictures.


  9. Thanks for the pics... I too am off to hunt for those cork alternatives.


  10. Oh I do love wine bottling and corking it plastic or natural cork. Thanks for the great photos.

    Victoria, Bellingham, WA

  11. judy, no, I've not heard of that program. And I really like Vézelay, too. I'd like to go back one day and maybe spend a weekend.

    tansy, let me know if you find it there!

    dale, most of the year it's ok, but in the summer it can swing up to 80 in there.

    susan, I'm not sure that our meager cork usage will make much of a difference, but we'll not abandon them!

    melinda, you bet!

    bettyann, but of course!

    gilbert, and let me know what you find.

    victoria, my favorite time is the UN-corking! :)


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