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Uncork with confidence
The Wine Society is a mutual organisation, so our members' satisfaction is paramount. If, for any reason, you haven't enjoyed a wine we want to hear about it and will happily offer a credit, a replacement or a refund.
The Wine Society pre-moderates comments on articles and reviews on products. This means that comments and reviews will not be published instantly; they will first be checked by the moderators. Moderators will be monitoring the site between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday and will endeavour to process comments and reviews within 48 hours of submission.
Moderation is intended to ensure that content published on The Wine Society website is of value to members and is fair and balanced.
We will normally approve comments for publication as long as they:
We reserve the right to suspend comments and reviews at any time. Where we choose not to publish a comment or review for a reason other than those listed above, we will reply to the member concerned by e-mail explaining our reasons and inviting them to make appropriate changes so that the comment or review can be reconsidered. We also reserve the right not to publish reviews that mention other wine merchants and competitors.
We may wish to use your comments in our literature or elsewhere online. Unless you specify otherwise, you are therefore agreeing in posting your comments that The Society has the right to use, edit, publish in any media, delete and/or store the whole or any part or parts of that post, and may quote you by name, without charge and without reference to you or anyone else.
The Society's wine buyers work very closely with our suppliers to establish and decide how best to seal a bottle. This very much depends on how long the wine is expected to remain in the bottle. For example a vintage port, which may well stay in bottle for 40 years or so, will be sealed with an extra long, top-grade natural cork. A wine with a shelf life of only a year or two may well be sealed with a plastic seal or screwcap. We list below those closures currently in use with a brief description of each.
A technical cork made up of the discards from the production of natural corks which are ground down into particles and cleaned and then combined using a food-grade polyurethane glue. A cheaper closure which The Society's buyers would discourage suppliers from using.
A technical cork made from cheaper-grade natural cork where the naturally occurring pores are filled with ground down cork particles and then the whole is sealed with a food-grade wax coating. Generally only used for wines with a short shelf-life.
Diam corks look like agglomerate corks but are far superior and are designed to put an end to cork-taint and random oxidation. The production process chops cork into pieces and sorts the superior, highly elastic, suberin component from the less elastic lignin, which is discarded. It mixes the suberin with microscopic spheres of the same substance used for contact lenses, which fills the voids between the cork particles reducing porosity to air and increasing elasticity without introducing humidity. Finally the pieces are mixed with a glue and moulded under pressure. The mechanical properties of the cork are guaranteed for a certain minimum number of years depending on the grade of cork – Diam 2, 3, 5 and 10.
The Champagne cork is 90% agglomerate made from cork off-cuts which are ground down, cleaned, compressed and then glued together with two disks of good quality natural cork glued onto the end which protrudes into the bottle.
Natural corks harvested from the cork oak (Quercus suber) forests in Spain and Portugal have been the closure of choice for wine for the last three hundred years. The bark of the cork oak is stripped from mature trees every nine years. The planks are stored and then cleaned and graded before the corks are punched out of the wood. For wines destined for long-ageing, high grade natural corks are still the closure of choice.
Cost-effective synthetic 'corks' made from food-grade plastic with a silicone coating (similar to that used on natural corks). Generally used for wines for short-term cellaring.
A glass stopper with a plastic 'O' ring which acts as an interface between the top of the bottle and the stopper, held in place by a metal, tamper-proof seal. Relatively expensive as a closure and not widely used. Can be removed by hand.
A short natural or agglomerate cork with a plastic or wooden top to enable the stopper to be removed by hand. Traditionally used for whiskies, sherries, Madeira etc.
Aluminium alloy screwcaps made with an expanded polyethylene wadding for the lining. Screwcaps are also known as ROTEs (roll-on tamper evident) or by the brand name (Stelvin is a popular brand). Widely used in Australia and New Zealand and for wines for short-term cellaring. Becoming increasingly sophisticated in terms of allowing differing levels of permeability so mimicking the properties of natural cork offering winemakers more choice depending of the style of wine being made. There is still a lack of sound data regarding the performance of screwcaps for longer-term cellaring.
This is an agglomerate cork with a disk of good-quality natural cork adhered to both ends. A reasonably priced, reliable alternative to natural cork.
Alcohol by volume%
Units per standard bottle
Each wine has its alcohol by volume percentage figure included. Please note that occasionally there may be a small variation between the expected alcohol level which is published here and the actual level. Members should bear in mind that alcohol levels are only a guide to a wine's fullness as a 12.5% cabernet may feel heavier and more full bodied in the mouth than, say, a gamay of 13.5%. Members should refer to the wine's tasting note for a description of the style and fullness of the wine.
An additional figure is beginning to be used on labels: the number of (UK) units of alcohol contained in that bottle. This is simply the alcohol by volume percentage multiplied by the content. Thus a 13% wine in a standard 75cl bottle, will have 9.7 units of alcohol.
The UK government recommends that men do not regularly exceed 3-4 units a day, and that women do not regularly exceed 2-3 units a day. It also recommends that pregnant women do not drink alcohol.
The Society's buyers provide recommended drink dates for all of our wines to help members decide the right time to pop the cork.
Should be drunk over the coming months, certainly within the year.
Now to 2016
Ready to drink now but will keep until 2016.
2018 to 2042
We recommend keeping longer before opening. In 2018 it will be ready to drink but still young and will keep until 2042. It's a matter of personal taste when such wines should be drunk. Many members prefer to try the wines over many years from the opening drink date to the last to watch the wine evolve.
Within one year of purchase
A non-vintage wine that should be drunk within 12 months.
Within two years of purchase
A non-vintage wine that is ready now but will keep for two years.
As a general rule, most everyday white wines are best enjoyed within a year of purchase, and most everyday reds within two years.
Certain fine wines, however, those with the right structure and balance, have the ability to evolve over time and gain complexity and finer nuances of flavour.
Savouring the wonderfully complex and intense bouquet and flavour of a wine drank at its peak is undoubtedly one of life's greatest pleasures. As with people, the ageing process will vary from wine to wine. Over the years the wine's primary aromas of fresh fruit will develop more complicated and persistent secondary and tertiary aromas. The fruity flavours of, for example, a premier cru white Burgundy will, over time, evolve buttery, toasty and yeast aromas, or fine reds may develop coffee, cedar, tobacco, vegetal, or even 'animal' flavours as they age.
There is much pleasure to be had by experimenting with bottles at different stages of maturity; finding out how a wine evolves with age and, perhaps more importantly, establishing your own preference in terms of taste for mature wine are all part of the interest and excitement of cellaring wine.
The drinking window we provide is a guide to when the wines will be at their best. Many will favour the wines in the youthful early stages of their development; others will enjoy the wines at their most mature.
Decanting is a useful way of softening the tannins, rounding out the flavours and releasing the potential of a young wine. To find out more please visit our Serving Wine guide.
The Society's purpose-built, temperature-controlled Members' Reserves offers members access to optimum storage conditions for their wines.
For more help and advice about how best to enjoy your wines contact our Fine Wine Advisers.