How Wineries Insert Corks into the Wine Bottle
Regardless of which method is used, the diameter of the cork needs to be matched up to the type and size of the wine bottles. The #9 cork has a 24 mm diameter and is the most common size.
Before they are inserted, corks are normally soaked in hot water for a few hours or in cold water overnight. However, I have come across different opinions on this matter and am interested in others’ take on whether this is necessary or not. Most corks are sanitized when they are produced, but if they are not, they should be boiled before they are used. Potassium sulfite can also be used as a sanitizer.
There are many hand corkers on the market. Most employ a double lever system whereby one holds and compresses the cork and the other exerts the force to actually insert the cork. The cork is placed into the compressor and the bottle is placed just underneath. Many hand corkers will hold the bottle in place, though some require that you or somebody else stabilize the bottle.
As the lever is pulled, the cork is compressed to a specified size and a plunger inserts the cork into the neck of the bottle. The depth of the plunger varies on different corkers. Often times, this is an interchangeable part.
The cheapest hand corkers are made out of plastic and can be purchased for under $10. They work fine, but lack the leverage of more expensive corkers and are difficult to use for an extended period of time.
Higher quality metal corkers with good leverage systems can be purchased for under $100. They will accommodate a variety of cork sizes and are sufficient for the vast majority of home winemakers. Of course there also are more advanced models that are quite a bit more expensive.
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