Cork size can play a huge role on how long your wine is able to be stored because the size of the cork will determine how much air is allowed to transfer over time. What a lot of wine makers don’t realize is that you do want slight amounts of air to come in contact with the wine to allow the wine to age. The more air transfer, the faster the wine will go bad.Cork Size & Storage Time
An obvious question becomes why would I want to age my wine quickly? In a lot of cases it depends on how quickly you want the wine to mature for your tastes. Some people like to enjoy their wines as quickly as possible, while others store a wine for years before drinking. The wine will have a different flavor profile depending on how young or old the wine is,and air will play a major role in that flavor profile.
Let’s give you a little understanding of how to figure out what the different numbers mean when looking at a cork label.Typically, the first number on the package is going to give you the indication of the diameter of the cork. For example,you might see a label that reads #8 X 1 ¾”. The #8 is in reference to the diameter of the cork. To make it easy, the higher the first number the larger the diameter of the cork. The 1 ¾” is in reference to the length of the cork.
The nice thing is that wine bottles have an industry standard opening. The top of the bottle is the same for 375ml, 750ml, and 1.5 L bottles. There are a few rare exceptions, due to where the bottle is made. There are still a few small bottle makers over in Europe that sometimes don’t follow these rules, but the chances that you run across one of those bottles is rare.
The composition of the cork can make a difference on very long term storage, but we’ll just talk about the standard type cork that is out there because they work well for most people’s needs. Below is a chart to give you some ideas of the storage time you can expect to get with each cork, but be aware that these numbers are based on experience with the corks, and not necessarily what the manufacturer would recommend. The reason we say that is because our experience has told us that these corks can preserve wine longer than some of the manufacturer’s recommendations. Also, these numbers are based on pretty ideal storage conditions. Expect less time when the wine is not stored properly. See our article on, “What do I want to do if I plan on storing my wine for several years?” for more information on proper wine storage.
We do not recommend using the #7 X 1 ¾” for wine storage as the wine will spoil very quickly. Tapered corks and tasting corks should never be used to store wine. They are not airtight enough to preserve your wine for anything longer than a week. They work fine to use after a bottle has been opened, but you do not want to use them for wine storage. Unfortunately, customers try to use these types of corks to prevent having to purchase a corker, but find themselves with horrible vinegar a few weeks later. We wouldn’t want you to ruin your wine in an attempt to save a few dollars.