The Loh Down On Science

Corked

New cork helps wine breathe just fine.

Wine gone bad? Nevermore!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science

wondering, have you ever uncorked a vintage bottle of fine merlot and smelled. . . gym socks?

That's "Cork Taint," which happens when the cork gets infected with a fungus. The wine also gets tainted, to the tune of one in every 20 bottles in stores.

It's a billion-dollar-a-year problem. But vintner Tim Keller has developed a high-tech artificial cork--which is another way of saying "screw-on cap." But a FANCY one.

To keep from turning to vinegar, wine needs to breathe. Different types of wine need to take in different amounts of oxygen.

Synthetic corks let in too much oxygen, shortening self life, while screw-caps don't let in ENOUGH.

But Keller's cap has vents, fitted with layers of metal and porous plastic, that can be calibrated depending on the wine. Vents might let in more oxygen for robust reds like Cabernet Sauvignon, or less, for lighter ones, like Pinot Noir.

Or for a hearty Australian FIGHTING wine, they could just put a sock in it! With little vents, of course.


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