Waxy Wine Tops

The bottomline is old wines which are waxed will not necessarily turn out that much better and for one reason only.

The wax capsule on the 1961 Monfortino is 100% perfect

A boring topic for most and afterall who cares if you aren’t a wine aficionado chasing bottles around the globe. I have seen many bottles with real wax capsules and some with synthetic capsules. All are meant to protect the wine and “seal it in” and whenever that happens it changes the aging perspective of the wine. The idea of a cork was (at least in the past) was to permit wines to breath and obviously wines need some air to evolve or do they? I cannot get into too much debate but in the past we always had wines with real cork up and until people realized that corks often taint wines and it is true there are controls to eliminate those risks. However some aren’t keen to spend €1-2 on a cork to see what happens.

And from my experience a wax capsule like a cork has its pros and cons and in my view wax works in some cases and especially with large formats but with 750ml, I consider wax unnecessary unless the producer is afraid of the wine being affected by shipping or storage, and no doubt most use “reefer” containers which are cooled and even still there are risks to all wines when they fall into the hands of humans. There is more to the story….

The answer to why wax doesn’t always work: when wine is stored and we agree at a temperature where humidity and temperature are stable in a cellar. In 99% of the cases the wines are stored lying down and for a good reason. The reason is we want the cork to stay “well lubricated” and a wet cork lives better and longer – but its a process and each process has an optimal course.

If the cork isn’t wet, it shrivels up as time passes and the cork gets dry and it contracts and hence wine evaporates out the bottle one way or another. But if you use a wax capsule the wine’s cork cannot do much as it is trapped. It is like having your hand over your mouth when you jog.

The cork does not have any chance to breath and or let the wine breath. Remember the wine and the cork find their own happy medium and they both must balance in the environment they live. If the cellar is dry the cork drinks more as the wine evaporates, and if you look at corks you can see their life and history.

The wax stops the entire process and there is no air passing and the cork gets stuck in one place and cannot do anything else but make wine contact; no air and so what is likely to happen is the cork’s best qualities (cork) over 59 years becomes integrated into the wine and if you wouldn’t taste cork, it would likely be fake.