“Oh, a synthetic cork. Those are hard to get out of the bottle, aren’t they?”
At Nomacorc, just about everyone has heard that comment. That’s because many people think pulling Nomacorc closures out of the bottle—or putting them back in—is tougher than doing the same thing with either natural cork or technical cork.
Putting Closures to the Test
When people actually try this A/B comparison themselves, however, that preconceived notion dissipates, according to an internal study performed earlier this year.
Twenty panelists—ten men and ten women—were asked to compare the performance of a leading microagglomerated cork brand with Nomacorc’s Select® and Select® Bio (300 and 500 Series). They tested various operations: inserting a corkscrew spiral into the closure, removing the closure from the bottle, removing the spiral from the closure, reinserting an inverted closure, and reinserting the closure in its original orientation. Operations were rated from 1 to 6, with 1 meaning an operation was “very easy,” 5 “very difficult,” and 6 that the operation could not be performed. Participants weren’t told what the purpose of the study was—just that they should do the operations in a certain order.
Additionally, the Dillon extraction force test, a standard mechanical test, was performed on all closures to assess the actual amount of force needed to get the closures out of the bottles. All tests were performed under two distinct temperatures, ambient and chilled, to simulate opening red and white wines.
As Good As or Better Than
Overall, participants found that Nomacorc closures were easier to remove and reinsert than microagglomerated corks. In the great majority of operations, ratings for Select closures were about a full point lower than those for microagglomerated corks, meaning participants found them significantly easier to remove and reinsert than their microagglomerated counterparts. Several participants also reported instances where microagglomerated corks started to partially crumble or break down, something that did not happen with Nomacorc closures.
This result was in line with those from the Dillon extraction force tests: All four Nomacorc closures performed as well as or better than micoagglomerated corks. In five of the eight different tests (four different Select Series closures at two different temperatures), the peak amount of force needed was lower for Nomacorc closures than for microagglomerated corks. And in the three cases where more force was needed for the Nomacorc closures, the difference was within the standard deviation, meaning that the difference in force was no greater than the difference found within a series of corks of the same model.
Furthermore, the extraction force needed to pull out a Nomacorc closure was also comparable to the range recommended by the Cork Quality Council, an organization that promotes quality assurance procedures for natural cork use within the industry. Nomacorc closures used during the study required a force between 17 and 35 decaNewtons (daN), and the Cork Quality Council recommendation states, “The amount of force required to remove a 45 x 24 mm cork shall be between 15–45 daN.” Other tests conducted by Nomacorc have shown that every category of Select closures (from 100 to 900) all fit within these parameters for extraction force.
So the next time someone says Nomacorc closures are hard to get out of (or back into) a bottle, you can reply, “Well, actually…”