Influence of cork density upon cork stopper resiliency after opening a sparkling wine bottle

After Champagne popping, the first consumer’s observation is the shape of the cork stopper. Consumers expect a “mushroom shape”. Nevertheless, we sometimes observe a “barrel” shape due to inappropriate cork’s elastic properties. The aim of this study was to follow the loss of cork stopper resiliency during 26 months according to the density (d) of the cork in contact with the wine. 1680 disks were weighed + measured and divided in 6 density classes: High (H1 d= 0,19 g/cm3 – H2 d= 0,21 g/cm3), Medium (M, not studied) and Low (L1 d= 0,13 g/cm3 – L2 d= 0,14 g/cm3). Then, 138 technical cork stoppers were produced for each of the 4 studied groups. These corks consisted of an agglomerated natural cork granule body to which two natural cork disks were glued. A total of 552 bottles of sparkling wine were closed with these corks and open after 13, 19 and 26 months to follow cork resiliencies. Wine bottles were stored horizontally; thus, the external natural cork disks were in contact to the wine. During the 26 months of the study, highly significant differences (ANOVA) were observed between the resiliencies of H-corks and those of L-corks, whatever the time studied. The diameters of the L-corks were statistically higher than those of the H-corks. No significant differences were observed between L1 and L2 corks. At the opposite, differences were noted between H1 and H2 at 19 and 26 months. This could be explained by the heterogeneity of the resiliency that was higher for H-corks than for L-corks. Finally, the corks were visually (12 judges) divided in 3 classes corresponding to high (expected mushroom shape, i.e high resiliency), medium (irregular shape of the disk in contact with the wine and/or low premature deterioration of the expected resiliency) and low qualities (barrel shape = premature deterioration of the resiliency). The corks were also divided in 3 categories corresponding to 0-33%, 34-66% and 67-100% resiliency. A strong correlation was noted between the visual and the instrumental categorizations. This study strongly evidenced 1) the importance of the cork density on the cork stopper behaviour when opening the bottle and 2) the interest of an instrumental approach reflecting the consumer’s perception.

Presenting author: Thomas Salmon – University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne – University of Haute-Alsace

Additionnal authors: Jordi Rosello | Francisco Oller S. A. Cassà de la Selva, Province of Girona, Spain, Alexandre Marcoult | Oller & Cie – SIBEL, Reims, France, Chantal Prat | Francisco Oller S. A. Cassà de la Selva, Province of Girona, Spain, Richard Marchal | Laboratoire d’Oenologie, Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne, Reims – Université de Haute-Alsace, Colmar, France, ,


Keywords: cork stopper, cork density, resiliency, sparkling wine, visual categorization

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