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Mar 2, 2007 01:49 PM

Bottle missing its cork

At a party recently, a friend went to open a 94 cab only to find the bottle had no cork. Somehow, the capsule had contained the wine all by itself even though the bottle was stored upside down. My husband thinks there was a little sediment plug to prevent leakage too.

Several professional winemakers at the party were dumbstruck given modern corking processes. My question is, have you ever opened a corkless bottle?

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  1. Do you remember what wine it was? Could it have been screwcapped? How did it taste? For discussion of a similar query see

    4 Replies
    1. re: carswell

      Well, I'd rather not say what wine it was because it was a small winery that we adore and would prefer not to put a blight upon. Absolutely not a screwtop, they only use cork. Needless to say, it was undrinkable. No one dared taste - the stink was enough.

      1. re: Junie D

        There's no blight upon anyone . . .

        This happens all the time. Well, numerically, it is not a frequent occurance, but it's happened to almost every California winery I know. An automatic bottling line can have all sorts of "glitches," and the most common one is that there's a "hiccup" in the corker, and the bottle doesn't get a cork inserted. Since the capsule is almost immediately placed on the neck and spun on, the fact that the bottle has no cork is occasionally missed by the QC person on the line . . .

        I'd call the winery and tell them.

        1. re: zin1953

          Thanks. Yes, it does seem totally reasonable to have a glitch - but none of us had ever seen it before. We did call the winery and they personally delivered a replacement and another bottle.

          1. re: zin1953

            Given that this thread is 100 years old (okay 5), I thought I would reveal that it was a bottle of Tom Eddy's cab. To their credit, they delivered a replacement to our door.

      2. To answer your question - no. Now to Carswell's question - I've seen many folk, some "pros," who have tried to use a foil-cutter on a Stelvin, not realizing that this was really not a capsule, in the common sense, but WAS the closure. It is not at all uncommon for folk to just grab a bottle, hit it with the foil-cutter, and recoil, as the little discs fall out! More winemakers are going to a Stelvin-like closure, especially for wines not meant to be aged. Now, back in '94, I do not recall any Cal-Cab producers using Stelvin. Seems that Plumpjack Reserve may have been the first, and that release was, what '98? The Stelvin cost ~US$5/btl. more, than their traditional cork closure.

        Must have been one tight capsule, though, if stored upside down, the weight of the bottle and the wine, may have kept the seal fairly tight. Too bad that it was spoiled.


        1. Picked up a bottle of 2007 Rosenblum "Harris Kratka Vineyard" Alexander Valley Zinfandel last Sunday afternoon, The Tax Day, April 15, 2012, from a local wine store.

          At the dinner table, I tore the foil off and was staring down the neck of the bottle directly at the juice itself!

          Decades of wine drinking and thousand plus bottles of wine consumed, from 2 buck chuck to Penfolds Grange, this is the first time I've encountered a bottle of wine protected by a simple foil seal.

          Well, the bottle of Federweißer I bought in a September festival a few years back in Germany was only sealed with a foil - but they actually poked a few holes in the foil to let the carbonation dissipate.
          So that did not count...

          On Monday, yesterday, I took the wine back to the store (without drinking it, of course) and they quickly replaced the bottle - after making sure that the replacement bottle did have something solid like a cork underneath the foil (with the poke of a pen.)
          I guess this is not the first time the store had to deal with a bottle with the cork missing…

          The wine:
          2007 Rosenblum "Harris Kratka Vineyard" Alexander Valley Zinfandel

          The wine store:
          K&L in Redwood City, CA

          The winery:

          10 Replies
          1. re: rhw168

            Come to think of it, the problem of detecting a missing cork in the wine bottling process should be quite simple to accomplish - by adding a laser/LED sensor in the capsuling machine to not install the capsule when the cork is missing.

            This will allow the human operator to easily spot the odd bottle without the capsule.

            1. re: rhw168

              Obviously you've never bottled wine before . . .

              1. re: zin1953

                Why zin1953, is it that obvious? :-)

                By trade, I'm a chip designer (semiconductor chip, that is) who just happen to like (drinking) wine.
                And I'm looking at this wine bottling process from my chip fabrication point of view.

                1. re: rhw168

                  Got another method for detecting missing-cork bottles...
                  This time it is after the corking/capsuling is done.

                  Send the finished bottle over a precision scale, measure the weight of the finished bottle, kick out the bottle that is lighter (by about the weight of the cork) to a different bin.


                  1. re: rhw168

                    the filling machines aren't that precise, most of the time -- and a few millilitres of wine will equal or exceed the weight of the cork.

                    The other issue is cost -- while these things are possible, they are ungodly expensive, prohibitively so for most winemakers -- and considerably more than the cost of replacing the odd bottle of wine that didn't get a cork.

                    (I'm guessing that more often than not it would leak, rather impressively, and so would alert everyone to the problem long before it got too far along the system.)

                  2. re: rhw168

                    >>> Why zin1953, is it that obvious? <<<

                    Yup! ;^) It's equally obvious you're in "high tech," rather than the decidedly low(er) tech world of winemaking.

                    Sunshine is absolutely right: what you are proposing is indeed "ungodly expensive" -- prohibitively so! -- and not feasible in the Real World.

                    >>> Decades of wine drinking and thousand plus bottles of wine consumed, from 2 buck chuck to Penfolds Grange, this is the first time I've encountered a bottle of wine protected by a simple foil seal. <<<

                    So, by your own admission, this has happened to you ONCE in decades, one in 1,000+ bottles. And how much does a laser/LED sensor cost, compared to the cost of replacing the bottle? How much does redesigning an entire bottling line to insert a precision scale (even it that would work, and I'm dubious about that*), compared to the cost of replacing the bottle? And how much more do you want to pay for your wine to cover the costs involved with such redesign? re-construction? new equipment?

                    Just asking . . .


                    1. re: zin1953

                      and if your corking line is malfunctioning at a high enough rate to justify all sorts of expensive and sophisticated electronic scanning devices, you'd be better off spending the money on a new corking line with a lower rate of malfunction....

                      1. re: sunshine842

                        Guys, should I make that :-) a little bigger?
                        :-) :-) :-)

                        That was my big tongue in my big cheek...
                        :-) :-) :-)

                        But seriously, all my high tech stuff will eventually trickle down to the low tech world of wine making - when the cost gets low enough...

                        Just look at all that chemical wizardry the wine makers are using to tweak the wine that were not available a few decades ago.

                        Missing cork is definitely low on the priority list of wine making, but once the high tech stuff become your normal tech, it will get picked up - by any low tech industry.

                        1. re: sunshine842

                          No line suffers from a malfunction rate THAT high! And the vast majority of bottling lines are located in small-to-medium wineries who bought the equipment used, no doubt, from a winery that either went out of business or expanded after being sold to a corporate giant which could afford the expansion.

                          Besides, in 35+ years of working in the wine trade -- in wineries, in the cellar and on bottling lines; in retail stores; and importing wines from all over the world into the US -- I have come across fewer than 10 bottles without a cork.

                          It's MUCH less costly to replace a bottle . . .

                          1. re: zin1953

                            that was kind of my point....

                            I spent the first part of my career in factories, so I' have at least a glancing familiarity with production equipment and QC controls.

              2. I recently had a similar experience. About a month ago I opened bottle of 2004 White Burgundy. There was no cork, normal ullage and the wine was fine. My first experience in forty years of drinking wine.