​Do Wax Seals Help Preserve Wine in the Bottle?

​Do Wax Seals Help Preserve Wine in the Bottle?

Posted by Matteo Lahm on 5th Jun 2024

You've been nurturing your wine like a newborn baby, checking in on it, turning it, talking to it, maybe even singing it a lullaby or two. You've been patient, you've been diligent, and finally, your wine has reached maturity. It's all grown up, ready to face the world. But just like any proud parent, you're not quite ready to let go. If you are using natural corks and you want to keep your wine in its prime, preserve its youthful vigor, it’s time to introduce you to the magic of wax seals.

Like a newborn baby, natural corks do the equivalent of yawning. They breathe and in doing so, they allow for small amounts of micro-oxidation, which is a fancy way of saying they let in tiny amounts of air. This air, it's like a personal trainer for your wine, helping it to age, to mature, to reach its full potential. But once your wine has hit its peak, you don't want it to keep aging, at least not too quickly. You want to slow down time, to capture that perfect moment for as long as you can. That's where wax seals come in.

If you are picturing yourself as some medieval scribe, sealing letters with a signet ring, enjoy it because it’s not too far from the truth. Some winemakers will even use a stamp to add that extra touch. But aside from giving your bottles some serious pizazz, you are also applying a useful and time-tested technique. The wax seal is not some newfangled idea. It has been used for centuries to preserve, protect and defend.

Probably because of cost, wax seals have fallen out of practice for your average priced commercial bottle. Plus, those wines are consumed too quickly for it to matter. That explains why it is more common on more expensive bottles. They create an airtight seal, preventing any further oxidation. It's like Sleeping Beauty waiting for the perfect moment to be awakened.

But we are not talking about commercial wine, we are talking about your wine. If you take great care in your craft and don’t want to be rushed to drink your wine before it turns, this is a great technique that will help you consume it at your leisure.

What if you use synthetic corks? Though a wax seal looks clever on any wine bottle, it works a bit differently with synthetics. Synthetic corks don't breathe but they do dry out after about 10 years. Natural corks do as well so the only mutual benefit is to extend the life of the stopper as much as possible. Therefore, the practice will help with this issue regardless of your cork choice, but the benefit of sealing the bottle entirely to slow the aging process only applies to natural corks.

So, if you've got a wine that's a few years old with a natural cork, and you don’t want to guzzle it down before it moves past its prime, wax sealing is for you. You've just sampled a bottle and it's perfect. It's like that first bite of a perfectly ripe peach, or that first sip of coffee in the morning. You want to preserve that moment, to keep it just as it is for as long as you can. Here's what you do.

First, get yourself some wax beads that are specific for bottles. Next, heat those beads in a pot until they melt. Be careful, this stuff is hot. You don't want to end up with a wax burn. Once the wax is melted, dip the top of your bottle in the hot wax. Make sure you get a good coating; you want to create a solid seal. Then, let it cool. And voila, you've got yourself a wax-sealed wine bottle.

Not only does this seal help to preserve your wine, but there is another added benefit. The heat from the wax will kill off bacteria or mold. It is a good way to keep your corks sanitary and it also looks pretty cool. It's like a badge of honor, a sign that you take your winemaking seriously. Plus, it's a great conversation starter at parties.

So, now you know the secret to preserving your wine's peak maturity. It's not rocket science, it's not even high school chemistry. It's just a simple trick, a way to keep your wine in its prime for longer. So go ahead, give it a try. Dip your bottle in wax, seal in that perfection. Your future self will thank you.

Remember, wine is always changing. It's like a river, constantly flowing, constantly evolving. But with a wax seal, you can slow down that process, you can extend a moment in time. So go ahead, dip your bottle, seal in the magic. Because in the world of wine, sometimes the old ways are the best ways.

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