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Mouldy or Crumbling Corks

March 20, 2012
Question by: Greg, London, GB


I have just opened a bottle of Churchills Vintage 1985. There was a lot of mould growth on the top of the cork and the cork pretty much collapsed on opening. The latter I understand is not uncommon. Does mould growth necessarily mean a bad port? It was only apparent on the top (outside surface) of the cork


Hi Greg, This can be quite common and is a result of trapped moisture between the cork and the capsule and has absolutely no adverse effect on the port or wine, in fact this is often an indication of really quite good storage conditions, in a reasonably damp cellar which can be excellent for ageing.

On the other hand, if the cork is wet it will be a clear indication of too wet or too damp storage or seepage from heat. The appearance of a little liquid or moisture on the cork can also be the result of bad storage and is the result of seepage of the wine under pressure up the side of the cork. This is reasonably easy to detect because the cork itself with have stain marks up the side.

On removing the capsule it is necessary to thoroughly clean the top of the cork, neck and lip of the bottle, but be careful not to shake the bottle!

The fact that the cork crumbled doesn’t have a direct correlation to the mould. It can do, but it can also be a weak cork or indeed a result of a bad internal neck structure of the bottle where the top of the internal neck is slightly narrower than the lower internal part of the neck. This causes an imbalance of pressure on the cork and over time and with higher alcohol of Port this can cause the cork to lose its original elasticity and therefore break or crumble when removed.

The best solution to this is to use an “Ah So!” two pronged cork remover.  Gently insert the longer prong into the neck between the cork & glass, very gently rock downwards until the shorter prong can be inserted, then continue to rock with gentle downwards pressure until the two prongs are virtually totally inserted into the neck of the bottle. Pull upwards with a clear twisting, circular motion – not directly upwards because you will simply remove the prongs ... and presto, the entire cork will come out, no matter how fragile it is.

Impresso em

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