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Imploded Cork


markk
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Visiting my cellar, I found that the cork in a bottle of wine (1978 Leoville-Las-Cases) had imploded - what tipped me off was the puddle of wine on the floor, and then I found the bottle with the foil imploded in. The cork was (and still is) floating inside the bottle with the wine that didn't spill out.

Does anybody know what causes this?

impl-wine-2.jpg

impl-wine-1.jpg

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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I know that secondary fermentation can cause the cork to shoot out of the bottle, through the capsule, but I don't know about is "sucking" the capsule into the bottle.

But here goes my best guess, which is probably way off the mark. . .

The cork dried out, even though the bottle was laying on its side. Wine leaked to a space between the top of the cork and the inside surface of the foil (and the capsules contained lead in 1978, so who knows what that does to wine and vice-versa). Then something happened there to both corrode the foil and to push the cork into the bottle (not too difficult to do since it had dried out, was smaller, and could "float" more easily).

Where you saw the wine on the floor, did you see much sediment?

Of course, another explanation is foul play.

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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Where you saw the wine on the floor, did you see much sediment?

Of course, another explanation is foul play.

No, it wasn't foul play. Nobody goes into that room but me.

As far as the sediment question, I just don't remember. I probably cleaned it up too quickly to notice. Why do you ask?

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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As far as the sediment question, I just don't remember. I probably cleaned it up too quickly to notice. Why do you ask?

Could *possibly* explain secondary fermentation (if the sediment was moving around in the bottle). But, then again, I may just be spewing jibberish.

Mice or other rodent.

This seems plausible, and from the pictures, it appears as if the bottle didn't even need to be on the ground-level rack.

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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For a rodent to have been able to push the cork into the bottle, the cork must have been quite loose already. The bottle was lying on its side, which is done to prevent corks from drying out. Does this indicate a defective cork?

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ID

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I had the same issue over the holidays because it appears that Winebid is shipping purchases no matter what the weather. I was out of town between Christmas and New Year's when I got word from my concierge (I'm in a condo) that he returned a box to Winebid because it was leaking. The weather between Napa and Seattle over the holidays was between 38F and 25F, depending day/night and elevation.

Upon my return I notified Winebid and they replied that they were waiting for the package. I few days later I received an e-mail saying that the cork had slid into the bottle! The bottle was half empty when they got it. Would 48 hours in that cold have something to do with it?

BTW, the bottle was a 1955 Sigalas-Rabaud.

Drink!

I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. --John Mortimera

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Am at a loss to explain this as anything other than sabotage. The rodent theory is interesting but:

- How could a mouse or rat hanging from the rack produce sufficient force to force a cork into a bottle?

- Even if a rodent were strong enough to push the cork in, wouldn't the capusle show more damage? Wouldn't the hole be bigger?

- Even if a rodent could push the cork part way in, would it be possible, anatomically speaking, for it to push the cork all the way in?

- The puddle on the floor would imply that the "accident" occurred not long before it was discovered, yet the thick layer of dust on the bottle and adjacent rack appears not to have been disturbed for a long time (except for the top of the bottle, which looks like it was recently cleaned with a rag — by markk?). Wouldn't a rodent have left tracks?

Of course, it had to be a 25-year-old bottle of LLC, not the Gallo merlot you got at the office Christmas party, eh?

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I've seen bottles where Termites have eaten almost the whole cork, But they did not have foils. At least he finally brought some wine to the Petanque courts. Strange to pull a 1/2- 1/4 inch long cork. Wine was still good. :biggrin:

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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Dang, that's weird!

Here's my theory, which is probably completely harebrained.

Most capsules have a tiny hole in them to permit them to slide onto the bottle easily during bottling without an annoying cushion of air getting trapped underneath. Wine doesn't necessarily leak out through the hole, though, because it's so small. Has anyone else here had the weird experience of ripping a foil off a bottle and . . . no cork! :shock:

If the cork had slowly slid into the bottle, air would have been sucked in through the small hole and the foil wouldn't have imploded like that. Therefore, either the cork imploded suddenly, or the foil hole was plugged, or both. So I'm thinking the cork was defective or cracked and gradually deteriorated, soaking wine all the way up to the capsule, where the wine, or even just the alcohol in the wine, gradually evaporated through the little peephole. At some point, due to evaporation, the pressure in the bottle dropped, the cork was suddenly sucked in, and since the foil was sticky with wine residue and the peephole was plugged, the foil ripped inward as well. Schlooop!

However this is my favorite theory:

I suspect paranormal activity.

:wink:

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Mary Baker

Solid Communications

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Has anyone else here had the weird experience of ripping a foil off a bottle and . . . no cork!  :shock:

Yes, with a bottle of 1959 Antoniolo Gattinara. Removed the capsule, and no cork. But neither the integrity of the capsule nor the fill level were compromised.

Regarding Really Nice's Sigalas-Ribaud Sauternes, there have been instances were sharp fluctuations in temperature -- particularly on the cold side -- result in a cork being pulled inward into the bottle. But all the way in? That's gotta be pretty rare.

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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<insert Columbo voice in brain> It looks like someone inserted a corkscrew while the bottle was on its side and tried opening it that way.

<touch finger to forehead above right eye>

Now why would someone want to open a bottle while on its side while still in the slot in a wine cellar? Why wouldn't they just take the bottle out, open it on a table and enjoy it in a proper glass?

<shrug shoulders> The dust free area on the bottle is where it was held. If you look at the hole in the capsule, you'll see that one side is pushing in, and the opposite side is pulling out. I'm guessing that is what happens when you insert a corkscrew into a cork while the capsule is still on.

Now why did the cork go into the bottle? <wave hand with cigar that has long gone out> That part I just can't explain.

It's my theory that someone who had knowledge of the location for the key to the door accessed this cellar while Mark was away in hopes of getting a quick buzz while he was out.

Uhhh, by any chance are there teenagers in this residence?

Drink!

I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. --John Mortimera

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But all the way in?  That's gotta be pretty rare.

Especially in a temperature-controlled cellar.

Not the Sigalas Rabaud. It was being sent a number of places.

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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But all the way in?  That's gotta be pretty rare.

Especially in a temperature-controlled cellar.

Not the Sigalas Rabaud.

Yeahbut it was being mentioned in reference to the Léoville, n'est-ce pas?

In any case, I can't imagine how temperature fluctuations, even in the range RN! is talking about, could create a vacuum sufficiently strong to suck a cork (and a long Bordeaux cork at that) into the bottle. It defies the laws of physics.

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Thanks, and to answer the various questions:

No teenagers, and no kids. And I should have used quotes around "cellar", because I live in a high-rise, and my "cellar" is one of the bedrooms that long ago got turned into a den/library/wine cellar. (No, it's not ideal, nor cellar like, but it's all I have, I keep the heat off in the winter and the a/c on in the summer, and the wines have done just fine in there over the years; even the wines from the late 70's have done fine, except for the one with the imploded cork that is!) And as for foul play, there aren't many people to go in there anyway, but as it happens nobody actually goes into that room without me as it turns out. Four play and mischeif are just not options in this scenario.

This happened sometime in the past year - I sometimes won't go into that room for a couple of days at a time, but one day I noticed the wet floor and the imploded bottle. To answer the remaining questions, the missing dust was from my thumb when I removed the bottle. It was sitting there in that spot undisturbed for a good ten to fifteen years I'd say. And the foil is completely im-ploded... nothing's pulling out. I've added some close-ups. I have never seen anything like this. It's complete mystery that I'm still hoping to solve, so thanks for the help!

implode-close-3.jpg

implode-close-2.jpg

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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Think that this is probably a beetle or other small termite of some kind. Remember this happening in the cellar i used to work in when one of these things bored straight through a barrel half way up. I went along topping up all the ullage (a weekly job) and after putting in a couple of litres when it should only have been a few cl i realised there was a problem.

As the bottle was racked, I can't see the cork drying out being a problem.

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The cork may hold the answer.

Andre Suidan

I was taught to finish what I order.

Life taught me to order what I enjoy.

The art of living taught me to take my time and enjoy.

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After some thinking with friends....

This does not look like a two-week corrosion.

Wine filtered out while leaving a vacuum behind.

The bottle being horizontal, did not allow air in creating vacuum. Think about how you pore your wine. If you pore a full bottle horizontal, you will create big air pockets and the wine will splash.

When the vacuum was sufficient the cork got sucked in. Remember, the older the cork the wetter and the easier to push/pull.

I had witnessed corks and parts of corks being sucked in in older bottles while trying to uncork them.

This is indeed an extreme.

Andre Suidan

I was taught to finish what I order.

Life taught me to order what I enjoy.

The art of living taught me to take my time and enjoy.

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My wife works at a wine storage facility in Napa County, and the other day she came home with photos nearly identical to these, with "explosion" holes in the capsule, and the cork inside the bottle. They were from 1960's wines acquired from a private collection that had been stored in a "cellar" with insufficient humidity. I have no clue on the science involved, though.

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