Liquor Laboratory

How To Cork Wine Bottles: Full Guide for 2023

How to Cork Wine Bottles 

Last Updated on November 5, 2023 by Lydia Martin

Although a glass of wine can be a relaxing way to end a long day, most of the time, you can’t drink all the wine in the bottle in one sitting.

So, you’ll have to reseal it again next time. 

But how do you cork wine bottles properly to prevent the remaining liquid from starting to go bad?

If this concerns you, read through this quick guide for a good resolution.   

5 Steps To Cork Wine Bottles At Home 

1. Prepare The Cork

corks on a table

When you’re done drinking, get the old cork and prepare it for resealing. Check for damages or deformations, as they may hinder the purpose of the cork. 

While you can use the old cork, you can buy new corks at liquor shops, wine-making shops, or local homebrew near you to use to seal wine bottles.

2. Wash, Sanitize & Dry The Wine Bottle

drying wine bottles

If you’re bottling your wine, make sure to wash, sanitize, and dry the bottle first before filling it with wine. You can do sanitizing while preparing the cork you’ll use. 

3. Soak The Cork (Unless Pre-Treated With Silicone Or Paraffin)

soaking corks on a measuring cup

There are pre-treated corks with silicone or paraffin [1], which you can use right away. 

But if your cork is not, we suggest soaking it first in boiling water for 10 minutes (if in a rush) or one to two hours before using it. 

4. Fill The Bottle With Wine, Leaving A Little Bit Of Clearance

filling wine on a bottle

Now, after the cork and bottle are ready, it’s time to fill the bottle with wine. Make sure to spare some clearance between the cork and the wine liquid. 

Wine makes every meal an occasion, every table more elegant, every day more civilized.”

– André Simon, French Wine Merchant

We suggest a minimum clearance of 15 milliliters in between so there’s enough space to prevent the cork from touching the wine liquid. 

Note that – if the cork is soaked in the wine liquid, the acid present in the spirit can deteriorate the cork over time.  

5. Seal It With Cork

Sealing Wine Bottle with Cork

Finally, seal it with cork. You better use a corker for this step to compress the cork in the wine bottle properly. 

While you can do it with your hands, achieving the proper corking method is difficult. 

Don’t push the cork all the way into the bottle opening; just halfway is recommended to maintain the clearance between the cork and the liquid. 

Extra Tip: Store Wine Properly After Corking

Do Not Immediately Lay The Bottle Down

After sealing with cork, don’t lay the bottle down right away. The cork needs time to spring back to its size (if you’re using old cork) and make a tight seal. 

Allow The Bottle To Stand Upright For 24 Hours

The best way is to let the wine bottle standing upright for three to 24 hours (we highly suggest the latter to be safe). 

After such time, the cork is shaped to fit into the bottle opening, forming a tight, good seal. 

Reminder: Pay attention to this part, as it would be unfortunate to have the wine you made ruined due to this small yet significant detail. 

FAQs 

How do you push a cork into a wine bottle?

You can push the cork into the wine bottle in a rocking motion. But do not twist the cork as much as possible, so the paper won’t wrinkle. Just push the cork about halfway into the wine bottle. 

How do you cork a wine bottle with a corker?

To cork wine using a corker, you must first compress the cork, then insert the corker into the wine bottle in a single motion.

Place the cork within the mechanism, position the wine bottle properly, then pull the levers down until you see it fully inserted. 

How do you cork a bottle without a corker?

You can cork a bottle of wine without a corker using plastic wrap and aluminum foil, then secure it with a rubber band tied on the neck bottle. 

Can you cork wine bottles by hand?

You can cork the wine bottles by hand, but it doesn’t guarantee any good. The corker is used to compress the wine cork [2], sliding into the bottle’s opening, which is challenging to accomplish by hand.

How long do you boil corks before cutting?

You can boil corks for around 10 minutes before cutting. 

Final Thoughts 

Sealing bottles of wine can be easy with a corker or corking machine in place. But if you don’t have these tools, you can do it manually (with your hands). 

However, the result may not be as effective as with tools. But if you want to try it anyway, just follow the steps above.

Make sure to do every detail as accurately as possible to get good results.

Now that you know how to cork wine bottles, you can keep them as long as you want without worrying about having vinegar opened soon (LOL!). 

References:

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/cork-stoppers 
  2. https://www.extension.iastate.edu/wine/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Wine-Corks-PDF.pdf 
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