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Dan Shumate

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Molassess and mold on sparkling wine cork

by Dan Shumate » Fri Aug 25, 2006 5:03 pm

I have a modest wine collection in a section of my basement which is about 64 degree (f) year-round. Last evening I found a small (dime size) puddle under the neck of a day-to-day sparkling wine that has been in the rack for a couple of years. The puddle was a stickly almost black substance; reminded me of molasses. The neck of the bottle on the bottom was sticky as well. I removed the foil. There was about 1/4 of a teaspoon of the sticky mass collected in the top of the foil and there are spots of mold/mildew growing around the lip of the bottle where it meets the cork.
Can anyone tell me whats happening here? (In advance, thanks. BTW: This is my first post on this forum so I apologize if I have done something incorrectly.
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Gary Barlettano

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Re: Molassess and mold on sparkling wine cork

by Gary Barlettano » Fri Aug 25, 2006 8:53 pm

Dan Shumate wrote:Can anyone tell me whats happening here? (In advance, thanks. BTW: This is my first post on this forum so I apologize if I have done something incorrectly.


Greetings, Dan. Welcome aboard. There's not much you can do incorrectly here but, if you do, Robin will simply come after your with rabid attack dogs and angry mothers-in-law. That's for the first error. I've never seen anyone survive to make a second.

As to your question, you got me beat. It does, however, sound like all the goop and mold was external to the bottle leading me to speculate that the source was also external. Were the contents in any way affected?
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Bob Parsons Alberta

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Re: Molassess and mold on sparkling wine cork

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Sat Aug 26, 2006 12:35 am

I have seen the mould and gunk a few times. The mould I am not worried about as I think it has something to do with humidity and the fact that the caps/foil go on later before sending out from the winery. The other point about the gunk is probably due to seepage but we need a scientist to explain the reaction to air/whatever. Just my guess!!!
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Remo Perriello

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Re: Molassess and mold on sparkling wine cork

by Remo Perriello » Sat Aug 26, 2006 1:09 am

Bob Parsons Alberta. wrote:I have seen the mould and gunk a few times. The mould I am not worried about as I think it has something to do with humidity and the fact that the caps/foil go on later before sending out from the winery. The other point about the gunk is probably due to seepage but we need a scientist to explain the reaction to air/whatever. Just my guess!!!


Welcome Dan!

I agree with Bob, I would think it has something to do with your humidity. Do you have a hygrometer? You temperature may be perfect, but your humidity may be up in the 90% and up. Mold and mildew thrive on those conditions... Also, be careful with that stuff, it may look harmless, but it can be dangerous to your health if you breathe it in.
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Bob Ross

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Re: Molassess and mold on sparkling wine cork

by Bob Ross » Sat Aug 26, 2006 1:19 am

Dan, welcome to WLDG -- a great place to discuss wine.

I've had a couple of bottles that showed these symptoms. Took them back to the wine store and bitched. The owner wiped off all the gunk, before and after removing the foil. Opened the bottles.

One was absolutely delicious. $12 bucks. Made me feel bad -- unsophiscated, I thought. Anyone should know how to fix those little storage problems.

The second wine as terrible. Unbelievably bad. Made me feel better. I hesitate to say how much I had paid for it -- but it was a 1947.

He gave me another bottle of the same wine -- no charge.

Three weeks later I opened it. Same crap under the foil. Same horrible tastes. Took it back and got my original money back.

Didn't feel so unsophisticated anymore.

Darned if I know what causes that junk -- I would just wipe it off and take my chances. If it's an every day wine, there's not much loss if it's bad ... but if it's good -- ah, the joy of wine. :-)

Again, welcome. Regards, Bob
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James Roscoe

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Re: Molassess and mold on sparkling wine cork

by James Roscoe » Sat Aug 26, 2006 1:29 am

Dan,
Welcome to the forum. Bob gives the sagest advice available. He is the original and best "wine guru" in my book. Any advice he gives you can take to the bank. Of course you will get lots of other great advice too.

I'm a big fan of the passive cellar where you can guarantee that constant temp. btwn. 55 and 65. It does sound like you might have a humidity problem. Is there mold anywhere else in the basement? A dehumidifier might do the trick.

In the meantime, I would be careful. Molds can be bad stuff as you have been told. Good luck. I hope everything turns out well.
Cheers!
James
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Dan Shumate

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Re: Molassess and mold on sparkling wine cork

by Dan Shumate » Sat Aug 26, 2006 10:36 am

As to the contents, I haven't opened the bottle (yet!) so I don't know how the wine is effected, if at all.
As to being caused by outside elements, I don't think so. The molasses was inside the foil on the bottom (as the bottle lay) and it was the only bottle (of many) that was effected. Also, the bottle was on one of the lowest racks and there was nothing on other bottles above it.
I'm guessing seepage and fermentation/evaporation but that is purely a guess.
And why is it dark? Perhap pigment from the foil leaching?
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Re: Molassess and mold on sparkling wine cork

by Dan Shumate » Sat Aug 26, 2006 10:40 am

Thanks Bob. No, I don't have a hydro what-ya-ma-call-it but I am very sure there is no mold in the cellar. Having said that, your point is excellent.
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Re: Molassess and mold on sparkling wine cork

by Dan Shumate » Sat Aug 26, 2006 10:42 am

Sorry Remo. I called you Bob. (I'll figure out how to work this thing eventually!)
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Thomas

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Re: Molassess and mold on sparkling wine cork

by Thomas » Sat Aug 26, 2006 10:44 am

Dan Shumate wrote:As to the contents, I haven't opened the bottle (yet!) so I don't know how the wine is effected, if at all.
As to being caused by outside elements, I don't think so. The molasses was inside the foil on the bottom (as the bottle lay) and it was the only bottle (of many) that was effected. Also, the bottle was on one of the lowest racks and there was nothing on other bottles above it.
I'm guessing seepage and fermentation/evaporation but that is purely a guess.
And why is it dark? Perhap pigment from the foil leaching?


Two possibilities: either seepage or residue that was left on the cork from the bottling line. Whatever residual sugar that is in the wine becomes that petrified gunk, and it is dark because when things are exposed to oxygen they turn brown.

If it is from seepage, like Bob's experience, the wine is likely shot, and the fill level would be lower than normal. If it is from residue from the bottling line, the wine could be unaffected. Only one way to find out...
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Dan Shumate

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Re: Molassess and mold on sparkling wine cork

by Dan Shumate » Sat Aug 26, 2006 10:45 am

Thank you. Sage advise.
We leave on vacation in a couple of days. I think I'll chill this bottle (and another one just in case) and open it the day we leave.
I'll let you know the condition of the wine.

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