Steve Case, recorking, Prohibition, wine weather — sipped and spit

SPIT: the wrong end
In Tuesday’s post about wine closure preferences, some commenters expressed frustration about not being able to reinsert a synthetic cork back into an unfinished bottle. That reminded me that a winemaker once told me that if you do that with a regular cork, be sure to keep the same side facing down, since the top may no longer be sanitary.

SIPPED: cash
Vinfolio, a wine retailer buffeted by financial crisis in January, has received an investment (amount unspecified) from Steve Case, founder of AOL, through his investment company, Revolution, LLC. Even though he’s far from investing his whole fortune, Vinfolio must feel that half a Case is better than none.

SPIT: past merger
Foster’s announced that it will split its beer and wine businesses, considered a prelude to selling one or both of the units. Foster’s wine portfolio includes Penfolds, Lindemans, Wynns, Rosemount, and Beringer. The shares leaped 7% in Australia. While speculation about suitors for the beer business quickly emerged, the future of the wine brands was less clear. UPDATE: Ray King, who ran the wine unit for three years, told The Australian that the merger was a “disaster,” adding, “It proved the old adage that you don’t mix the grape and the grain.”

SIPPED: exploring the “noble experiment”
Ken Burns will release a new documentary about Prohibition. I explored the the odd but astoundingly important chapter in American wine in my book Wine Politics. The subject gets a fuller treatment in a new book, Last Call: the Rise and Fall of Prohibition. Hear a podcast with the author here.

SIPPED: wine weather
Yesterday’s New York weather was scorching with a chance of vinho verde. Today, it’s cloudy and warm, with a chance of Chablis.

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4 Responses to “Steve Case, recorking, Prohibition, wine weather — sipped and spit”


  1. Re: ‘Spit: the Wrong End,” I read that piece in the Wall Street Journal several weeks ago and thought it a pretty poor job: a] padded with a lot of unnecessary stuff one one and only one kind of faux cork and b] generally uninformed about difference among types of cork stoppers. Author kept referring to ‘natural cork’ even when talking about aggolomerates made of cork crumbs and glue, and 2-Tops, the same but with cork discs top and bottom; similarly, seemed not to recognize different types of plastic stoppers.

    Anyway, some solid plastic stoppers CAN be reinserted, but it requires force (it helps to rotate the stopper. The shortest stoppers are the hardest to deal with. Other faux corks seem to be plastic sleeves filled w/spongy plastic stuff; these are easier to reinsert (again while rotating). They are usually as long as natural corks, making the job easier.

    Crumb-and-glue stoppers are often as short as plastic stoppers and equally lacking in the resilience needed for easy reinstertion. As for real one-piece corks I always have reinserted them ‘backwards’–the opposite of the way they came out of the bottles–because very often the bore of the bottleneck is not of constant diameter but is in fact tapered: narrow at the corkscrew end and appreciably wider at the wine end. I will continue to do so despite the risk of insanitation. The Mrs. Grundys of this world are of course entitled to continue the manufacture of new perils for Pauline to dread, but I decline to adopt or promote them.


  2. Thanks for the heads-up about the Ken Burns project…always good to shed light on the dark age that still has ramifications today. Timely too with HR. 5034 in process.
    My better half just brought me another pile of wine related books for summer reading, and Wine Politics is among them…looking forward to it.


  3. Thanks for your thoughts, Bill. As to the recorking, it may be physically more difficult, but the wine may just be better on Day 2. Someone offered an anecdote on the other thread to this effect..

    And Todd, I’m so glad that your better half showed such excellent judgment! Hope you enjoy it and do report back with your reactions.


  4. For the sake of keeping all relevant information on one thread, here was the comment from “David B” from the original posting:

    “…Someone else said to be sure to reinsert the same way as the cork came out due to sanitary issues. I can verify the importance of this. Some years ago, in removing the top of the capsule, I noticed a distinct wet, moldy newspaper aroma. I decided to go ahead and pull the cork. Then the surprise – the wine was not corked, it was great. My wife and I had a glass with dinner and re-corked for the following day. As was my habit back then, I reinserted the cork upside down as most corks seem to insert better that way. The following day, the wine was completely undrinkable. The bottle had remained upright and the wine had never touched the cork. This illustrate how powerful those off putting aromatics can be. I now use the rubber stopper from Vacu-Vin but do not pump as I think it may affect the aromatics of the wine.”


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