Want to learn how to use a wine bottle corker? Then here’s some information that you will definitely want to take a look at…
Just as the name sounds, a wine bottle corker is a tool that is used to insert a cork into a wine bottle. It compresses and plunges the wine cork. Below are some tips on how to use a wine bottle corker and how to get the cork into the bottle with minimal effort.
- Use The Right Corks:
First and foremost you want to use the right corks when bottling your wine. Without the right cork your bottling efforts will be doomed from the start. This means using either a size #8 or size #9 straight cork. Anything smaller and you can expect some seepage when the wine bottles are laid on their side. Anything larger and the wine bottle corker will have too hard of a time corking the bottle. As a side note, you’ll also have an incredible time getting the cork out.
- Prepare the Corks:
The wine bottle corks can be prepared in one of two ways:
1. You can steep or steam the corks in hot water for a short period of time. Bring a pan of water to a boil; turn the burner off; put the corks on the water; and place a lid over them. About three minutes is all the time recommended. Never go over five. Get the corks off the heat. Heating the corks for too long will cause the them to become brittle and crumble while in the bottle.
2. The second method is to submerge the corks in a sulfite solution for a few hours or overnight. You will need to use a container with a lid to keep the floating corks submerged. I use an old plastic jar. The sulfite solutions consists of either 1/4 teaspoon of potassium metabisulfite or 4 Campden tablets in a quart of water.Regardless of which method you use, you will want to drain the excessive water from the corks by placing them in a colander, strainer or something similar.
- Loading The Cork:
Now we’re getting down to how you actually use the wine bottle corker. This step is very straight-forward. Each corker is a little different, but essentially all you are doing is dropping the cork into the corker’s chamber.
- Compressing The Cork:
What this is doing is taking the cork that is almost an inch in diameter, and squeezing it down to about the diameter of a dime. Depending on the corker, this action requires that you pull down or squeeze some kind of lever.
- Inserting The Cork:
This is where the actual corking takes place. Once the cork is compressed, a plunger is used to slide the cork into the wine bottle. Some style of corkers compress and plunge all with one lever action. This is normally the case with floor-standing wine bottle corkers. Other corkers may require two steps as described above. First you compress. Then you plunge. This is sometimes the case with hand-held corkers.
- Adjusting The Depth Setting:
Once you cork your first wine bottle you will want to take a look and see how far the cork was inserted into the bottle’s opening. The goal is for the cork to be flush with the top lip of the wine bottle opening. A little lower is okay, but you never want the cork sticking out of the wine bottle. Most wine bottle corkers will have a depth setting adjustment that will allow you to control how far you corker plunges. Play with this adjustment until the corks are being inserted at the proper depth.
- Seating The Corks:
All wine bottles that are sealed with a cork in this way will eventually need to be stored on their side. This helps to keep the cork swelled so that it can continue to maintain a tight seal. But before laying the bottles down you need to give the corks time to set. After the corks are compressed by the wine bottle corker, it takes a little time for them to expand all the way back and apply full pressure on the inner side walls of the wine bottle opening. If the wine bottle are laid on their side too soon some could leak. For this reason you need to let the wine bottle sit upright for a day or two before stowing away in the cellar.
So there you have it, the essentials of how to use a wine bottle corker. All-in-all you’ll be surprised at how simple it is to cork a bottle of wine. It’s a fun part of the wine making process and one that’s just perfect for getting the whole family involved.
Happy Wine Making,
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.