Harvested from cork tree bark, it’s been used for centuries and plugs 80 percent of all new wine bottles today.
Pros: It compresses into the bottle easily and expands, creating a tight seal, yet it allows a small amount of air to interact with the wine which can aid the aging process.
Cons: It requires a corkscrew, it’s breakable and is susceptible to cork taint, which gives wine a moldy, wet-cardboard aroma.
This recylable aluminum cap is widely used in Australia and New Zealand for white wines and many high-quality reds.
Pros: While it doesn’t hermetically seal the wine, it does keep out more air than natural cork, helping to preserve the original aromas and flavors of the wine.
Cons: Because the wine can’t breathe, there is a small risk of sulfides imparting off aromas.
Most synthetics used today are typically petroleum-based plastic, but one of the larger faux cork makers, Nomacorc, recently released a synthetic cork derived from sugar cane.
Pros: It looks and sounds like a cork, allows wine to breathe at a consistent rate and there’s no risk of cork taint.
Cons: Some claim the plastic gives wine a chemical taste.
A glass sealer with an o-ring that resembles an old-school jug stopper; several producers in Germany and Napa Valley are already using it.
Pros: No impact on the nose or flavors and it hermetically seals the bottle, reducing the risk of oxidation and preserving the wine’s original aromas.
Cons: It must be manually inserted into the bottle. This is a big expense, which means pricier wines for you.
Another topper that looks like a jug stopper, this plug—which is gaining producer fans in Australia where it was first released—is popped after you peel away a protective casing.
Pros: Makes the “pop” sound and there’s zero risk of cork taint. It can be used for both still and sparkling wines.
Cons: It only fits into a specially-designed bottleneck. This drives up the cost, which will ultimately be passed onto you.