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Question subject

Date Asked

Corkless Bottle

April 25, 2012
Question by: Joshua, New York, USA

Q:

What would cause a bottle of Vintage Port to have a capsule and a selo, but no cork? Is it even safe to drink or may lead have leached into it from the capsule?

A:

Hi Joshua, Although very rare, this can happen, when a cork gets stuck in the bottling machine and "in the blink of an eye" the capsule is put on the bottle. The capsule may be tight enough not to leak, or leak only a little after many years, but certainly not sufficient to protect the wine or port.  With new bottling lines and improved quality control, there are actually sensors which would detect if something like this were to occur, so the chances are even lower now than they were 25 years ago, when your wine was bottled.

We have looked at your photos, and as you comment yourself, the bottle was "clearly in poor condition ...  terrible stains over the selo and down the side."  In general, wine stains and residual material over the capsule and neck are clear indications of bad storage and very probably excessive heat.  These things should have tipped you off that this was likely to be a very dodgy bottle, particularly at over 25 years of age.  Our opinion is that a bottle in that condition should never have been put up for sale by the merchant or only with clear reservations.  Certainly we personally would not buy a bottle in this condition and we could not recommend drinking it.  At most, as an academic exercise to learn what happens to wine stored very badly, we would "nose" the wine and perhaps take a small sip which we would certainly spit after assessing the state of the wine.



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