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How to Make Wine Cork Shamrocks

How to Make Wine Cork Shamrocks

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This easy craft be perfect for a kid-friendly St. Patrick’s Day activity

This great DIY project is great for any skill level.

If your little leprechauns are looking for a way to show off their Irish pride, you’ll love this easy rainy-day craft. As shamrocks are an integral part of St. Patrick’s Day decor, you and the wee-ones can make a great piece of family art in a pretty unique way. With these easy DIY cork stamps, your shamrocks are guaranteed to come out perfect every time. Feel free to stamp them on paper, chalk boards or whatever you want to add a little green too! Happy Crafting!

What You’ll Need

  • 3 wine corks
  • Duck tape or painter’s tape
  • Green acrylic paint or kid’s “finger paint”
  • Paper

1. Arrange wine corks in a triangular shape.
2. Wrap tape securely around the corks.
3. Dip the tips of the wine corks in the green pain, dabbing excess paint off.
4. Stamp corks onto paper or any blank canvas and enjoy!

Lucky Wine Cork Gnomes

If you have a few wine corks, make these cute Lucky Wine Cork Gnomes for St. Patrick’s Day.

These cute little gnomes make great gifts. I actually hang wine cork ornaments around a wine bottles to give as a gift. The last ornaments I made were for Halloween.

But back to Gnomes. Aren’t these little guys cute!

And they’re easy to make. So gather up a few wine corks and read on to learn how to make them. By the way, if you don’t have wine corks you can buy them. Check out the link below.

45 thoughts on &ldquo Preparing Your Corks When Bottling Homemade Wine &rdquo

I mix my sanitizer then place it and my corks in a ziplock bag then squeeze out the air and seal. I leave this overnight, the corks stay moist and go in and out of the bottle with out aproblem.

Thanks for this valuable tip!

Do you have an old coffee maker? I pour about two cups of solution into water storage of coffee maker and the corks [22] into the receiving pitcher. Turn on the maker and in less than ten minutes your corks are soft and sterilized.

Why do you always recommend sodium metabisulphite instead of potassium metabisulphite like everyone else. Why would I want to add sodium to my wine?

Richard, there has been a lot of discussion on this topic over the years. Some will indicate that it will leave a slight metallic taste or some other off-flavor in the wine. Others, will bring up the point of adding sodium – in general – to the wine… more sodium is not good. I have used sodium metabisulfite many, many times in my wine with no negative effects. Many other home winemakers have done the same, as well, with no problems, whatsoever. I have researched the amount of sodium it adds to the wine and after doing the math, it comes out to be about the same as the amount of sodium in two pickle slices per case of wine. Sodium metabisulfite is much less expensive than potassium metabisulfite. The reason I have put it in recipes and other places in the past is out of convenience. Home winemakers are much more likely to have sodium metabisulfite on hand than potassium metabisulfite. But having said all of this, it should be understood that either of these two can be used interchangeable in a recipe, sanitation or elsewhere, regardless of where your read it.

I have been making wine—mostly my own grape for over 10 years. This year my grape crop was not real good and I am having trouble getting it to ferment. I was just about ready too throw it out one morning and found a real good fermentation. My batch is only about 4 gallons. temptation is 85 +. I started with 110 and now it is down to 70 and stays there. I have added yeast and sugar twice. I suppose my problem is something real simple. anybody want too give me boost. Thanks.

I used to soak the corks in sanitizer solution, but later learned that this can cause the corks to become brittle and fall apart when using some cork screws. This was especially true of the composite type of corks. As a result I now use a lite sanitizing, rather than a soaking and have had no problems. I also keep unused corks in an airtight container with a little bit of sulphite crystal’s in a cloth bag at the bottom.

I mix mine with a drop of sunflower oil, great no effort at all.

Because I have to store my bottles upright I have switched to synthetic corks. Do you have any advice on how to prepare these corks for bottling?

Bob, synthetic corks do not need to be soaked or steamed, etc. They need to be quickly sanitized with a sulfite solutions. Just put the corks in a seal-able container, like Tuperware bowl or similar and add water/sulfite solution to the bowl and seal up air-tight for a half-hour or so. The solution can be made by mixing 1/4 teaspoon of sodium metabisulfite with a quart of water. The synthetic corks do not need to be submerged. The gas from the solution will sanitize the corks as well. You do not need to rinse the corks off, you can take them right out of the solution and put them into the corker.

How do you feel about using a humidor or some other method of exposing the corks to metabisulfite and then eliminating any soaking? My floor corker will handle a cork that hasn’t been softened, but the sanitizing solution seems to end up gunking up the mechanism and can mean more clean-up.

Rod, using a humidor method, or the vapor off of a “sulfite” sanitizing solution would work fine.

I’m just getting started in making my own wine. I have noticed that the size of the corks can be different. What size do I need?

Justin, the opening of a standard, 750 ml wine bottle is 3/4 of an inch. If you have a wine bottle corker you will want to purchase either the size #8 or size #9 corks. Which size you get depends on the type of corker you have. The following article will discuss this topic in more detail.

I just let ’em sit submerged for 5-10 minutes in sanitizer. Goes in without a problem with a floor corker. Didn’t steam ’em or let ’em soak overnight. Guy a brewery store gave me these instructions.

This is also how I do it with a “hand corker.” I use one that has two levers you push down on to drive the cork through a smaller diameter throat and then into the bottle.

So is the soaking or steaming just for the ease of inserting the cork? I ask because although I have heard and read about it I have never done it. I just give a quick 15 min in sanitizer and cork. Have not had any problems yet. Been doing this about a year.

Jon, actually, steaming or soaking the corks does make them more pliable and easier to insert. However, both processes also sanitize the corks in the process.

Did you folks rinse the sanitizer off before inserting the cork? I’m new to all of this and am a little confused!

Vic, you do not need to rinse off the sulfite solution before using the corks.

I guess the wine gods are with me. I’ve been making my wine for 7 years now and have gone through 200+ corks. I have never sterilized the corks. Some of my bottles are over one year old. Neither have any (real) corks deteriorated nor have any bottles spoiled.

Same here, but for over ten years. I’ve used all type of corks and insert them dry right out of the bag with a floor corker. I’ve never had a bad bottle and I make about six kits per year.

I mix a standard solution of potassium metabisulfite/citric acid and put about 2-inches of the solution in a food grade 2-gal bucket. I place my corks in a plastic colander and then put the colander on top of the bucket (not touching the solution) with the bucket lid on top of the colander for about 30 minutes. This exposes the corks to the metabisulfite solution for sanitizing without wetting the corks.

I usually use the corks right out of the bags when new as they are supposedly packed sanitized with gas. Once opened i usually use the humidor method. I would be afraid to soak them over night in a sulfite solution in my thinking that what is absorbed in the cork may over sulfite the wine.

I also do not see the need to sanitize the corks before using them. Commercial wineries generally don’t. I think if you get corks from a reputable supplier you should not have a problem. If a cork is infected with TCA (cork taint) sanitizing will not eliminate the problem.

Hi folks,
I’m new to all of this and am going to be bottling wine for the first time tonight! I bought a bag of natural corks and I’m wondering if I should throw a little b-brite in the steam solution to make sure the corks are clean before inserting them in the bottles? If I do use b-brite, would I want to rinse the corks off before inserting them? Your advice is most welcome!!

Vic, we do not recommend using B-Brite to sanitize the corks. Other than steaming the corks, the only sanitizing solution we recommend using is a sulfite solution.

My beer is bottle-conditioned. I’m reluctant to put any sulphites in contact with it because that might stop the necessary yeast growth. One batch didn’t carbonate after a small amount of iodide sanitizer was left in a container. Do you believe any significant amount of sulphites are left on the corks?

Geoff, when sanitizing corks with sulfites for bottling wine, the residual sulfites will not harm the wine. With wine, you actually add sulfites directly to the wine to prevent spoilage. Wine bottles and corks are not designed to handle the pressure of bottle conditioning beer.

little cork is result of so much of hard working and precious steps.. glad to know this. thanks for sharing

Is a quick rinse with one step sufficient and ok to use on corks? I soaked #9 corks in pot met overnight and they were popping up out of the bottles. I read commercial wineries use corks with no soaking. So I did a quick dip in one step solution and let them sit to air dry and they won’t in and stayed in. Any problem with that?

Ed, this batch of wine will probably be okay. However, we do not know how the one step cleanser will affect the quality of the corks. Commercial wineries insert the corks dry because the use air pressure to insert them. Having the corks push back out is not uncommon. All you need to do is to keep pushing them back in until they stay in place.

Can I use Star SAN acid sanitizer to soak my corks in overnight? This is my first try at winemaking.

Patty, we would not recommend using Star San for your corks. It is best to either steam them or soak the in a sulfite solution.

I’m also pretty new to home brewing. Why is Star San not recommended? Thank you for your advice!

I just bottled for the first time (with wine bottles instead of beer) and of course just stuck corks into the corker and jammed them in the bottle. I sanitized the bottles of course, and the siphoning equipment. It wasn’t until after I was done that I thought maybe the corks shouldn’t look all smashed in the neck and maybe I should double check the process. I’ve got six bottles corked with dry unsanitized corks (standing upright). What should I do? Recork them? Nothing? Recork half and keep the other half as a control group?

Max, it is up to you if you want to re-cork the bottles. However, if it were me, I would re-seal the bottles.

Would 1 step no rinse cleanser work?

Ryan, we do not recommend using the one step no rinse cleanser because not all of the chemical will dissipate and can seep into the cork. You want to stick with the sulfites or steaming to prepare the corks.

So can I just throw the corks into a pot with water, boil for a couple minutes then let air dry? I dont like the idea of using anything at all.

This will work, but you want to put a lid on the pot. The corks will float on top so to treat all sides of the cork, you need to use a lid. Just a couple if minutes is fine. Then cool them down in cold water right away.

Do you need to dry the corks and inside of the necks after steaming, before you insert them?

Fritzi, you do not want to let the corks dry before inserting into the bottles. Part if the reason for steaming them prior to use is to make them more pliable and easier to insert.

Should you do this with synthetic corks?

Brenda, These wine bottle corks do not need to be softened. However, they do need to sanitized in a sulfite solution prior to bottling.

How to Make Wine Cork Shamrocks - Recipes

This is the same Receipt King William had when he was in Ireland.
From The Country Housewife and Lady's Director, by R. Bradley, 1736. Reprinted in A Sip Through Time by Cindy Renfrow.

1 Gal French Brandy (or more)
1 lb Seedless Raisins
1/4 lb Figs
1/2 oz Saffron
1 Dram Musk (1/8 or 1/16 oz)
1 oz Licorice Root 1 oz Fennel Seed
1 oz Anise Seed
2 Drams Coriander Seed (1/4 or 1/8 oz)

To every Gallon of French-Brandy, put one Ounce of Liquorice sliced, one Ounce of sweet Fennel-Seeds, one Ounce of Anisseeds, one Pound of Raisins of the Sun split and stoned, a quarter of a Pound of Figs split, two Drachms of Coriander-seeds let these infuse [soak] about eight or nine Days, and pour the Liquor clear off, then add half an Ounce of Saffron, in a Bag, for a Day or two, and when that is out, put in a Drachm of Musk.

If when this Composition is made it seems to be too high a Cordial for the Stomach, put to it more Brandy, till you reduce it to the Temper you like.

From The Cook and Housewife's Manual, by Mistress Margaret Dods, 1829. Reprinted in A Sip Through Time by Cindy Renfrow.

2 Quarts Brandy or Whisky
1/2 oz Whole Nutmeg
1/4 oz Cardamom
1 lb Raisins
Sugar Lumps
1/4 oz Cloves
Peel of 1 Seville Orange
Saffron OR Spinach Juice

To two quarts of the best brandy, or whisky without a smoky taste, put a pound of stoned [pitted] raisins, a half-ounce of nutmegs, a quarter-ounce of cloves, the same quantity of cardamoms, all bruised in a mortar the rind of a Seville orange, rubbed off on lumps of sugar, a little tincture of saffron and a half-pound of brown candy-sugar.

Shake the infusion every day for a fortnight [two weeks], and filter it for use. Not a drop of water must be put to Irish cordial. It is sometimes tinged of a fine green with the juice of spinage [spinach], instead of the saffron tint, from which it takes the name (as we conjecture) of usquebah, or yellow-water.

No wine beats Champagne. The bubbly liquid stands for celebration and classy events, and it tastes like heaven. Learn more about the exclusive name, preparation and vintages behind this world-famous wine.

'Chacha' is the name for the distilled spirit or pomace wine from the winemaking process in the Republic of Georgia. Produced widely in Georgia, the spirit is less well known outside the region. This article introduces the spirit with a few notes on production, taste, and where to find it.

Taking Care of Wine Corks

Corks, the original kind, are made from the bark of the Cork Oak, which is harvested once every 20 years without endangering the trees’ life. For centuries they were simply punched-out cylinders of cleaned bark, but innovation has brought many kinds of manufactured corks, along with some made entirely without the intervention of trees.

Agglomerated wine corks are made from chipped cork pieces ground to a specific size and glued together with non-reactive polyurethane glue. Inexpensive and easy to handle, these are suitable for wines that will be held for short periods of time—less than a year.

Die-cut natural corks are punched out from cork bark. They rely on the density and elasticity of the natural cork bark to seal the wine bottle. They’re good for much longer periods. However, it’s all dependent on how much you’re willing to pay: the cheapest kind are not much better than agglomerated corks, but stepping up the price ladder means can expect your cork to last from 3 years to more than 10.

are made from food-grade, super high density, foamed polyethylene plastic with a food-grade neoprene coating. They are easy to insert and extract, do not chip, split, leak or rot, and are suitable for at least 5 years of aging, and in good cellaring conditions, over ten years, and require zero storage maintenance or pre-treatment.

The Long (and the Short) of It

How long should your cork be? Look realistically at how long you expect to store your wine before drinking, and figure out how much cork fits in your budget. A good rule of thumb is 'You get what you pay for.' The cheapest cork isn't always the best deal, and if you do decide to keep some bottles for the future, you may find yourself having to re-cork them in a few years.

Really cheap, long corks are not as good as more expensive, shorter corks. Quality is the most important factor, because as little as 2 millimeters of quality cork length will fully seal a bottle.

In addition, there is the problem of trichloranisole contamination. All tree-based corks can harbor a bad-smelling substance called trichloranisole. Industry statistics show that as much as 5% of all wine is spoiled by contact with contaminated corks—that is to say that even the costliest natural corks can spoil wine. This is why I strongly endorse Nomacorks, which never carry trichloranisole.

If you are using a small, hand-held corker (single or double-lever types) with natural corks you may need to prepare your corks by soaking them in warm water for 20 minutes. Whatever you do, NEVER SOAK YOUR CORKS IN SULFITE SOLUTION. Corks can soak up sulfite like a sponge, and when they go into the bottle they can release it (like a squeezed sponge) and dose your wine with an unknown amount of extra sulfite. Stick to plain water.
If you have trouble getting corks to pass through your hand-held corker even after soaking, you can try adding ¼ cup of glycerin to every gallon of warm water that you use for soaking. This ensures that the corks get enough moisture to lubricate their passage through the corker. However, this may cause them to crumble in the long term.

Some books talk about boiling corks or giving them a long soak in sulphite, but these are very bad ideas. Cork is tree bark, and boiling turns it to pulp. Long soaking does the same thing. Corks can soak up sulphite solutions and transfer them to the wine.

The trouble with handling corks that have sat in your cupboard for a while, or very dry corks is that it’s tough to judge how long you can soak them before they become mushy. However, there is a nifty trick you can use if you your corks are brittle either from age or low-humidity storage. You can make a cork humidor.
You will need a clean plastic bucket and lid, an empty wine bottle, and a 1.25% solution of metabisulfite, (that’s three tablespoons of sulfite powder dissolved in one gallon of cool water). Fill the wine bottle halfway with your solution, and carefully stand it up in the bottom of the bucket. Gently pour your corks into the bucket, filling the space around the bottle, supporting it and keeping it upright. Seal the lid on tightly.

Leave the bucket in a room-temperature area for about a week. In that time the liquid evaporating from the wine bottle will raise the humidity in the bucket to about 70%. This increases the humidity in the corks to 6%, making them pliant enough for easy insertion. The Sulphur dioxide gas coming off the liquid will prevent the growth of molds or spoilage organisms, keeping the corks sanitary. No further treatment of the corks will be necessary before bottling.
If you want to store your corks this way, replace the solution in the bottle every four weeks, and keep the lid tightly sealed. That way your corks will always be ready for use.

Nomacorks? Leave ‘em in the bag anywhere. They never dry out and don’t require pre-treatment in a floor corker. They may, however, be really hard to put in with a handheld or double-lever corker. Which brings us to.

There are several types of wine bottle corkers available. I cannot recommend enough using a floor corker. Other corkers (twin lever, single lever, and compression corkers) rely on human muscles to compress the cork and push it into the bottles. Floor corkers, while more expensive, use levers and mechanical advantage to carefully compress the corks and insert them precisely into the bottles. They also hold the bottles steady in a spring-loaded base. They are really worth the extra money.

After the corks have been inserted into the bottles it's a good idea to dry the top of the cork off with a clean cloth. This will prevent any moisture from forming mold there. While a spot of mold on the top of the cork wouldn't hurt your wine, it does look unpleasant.

You should leave your wine bottles standing upright for at least the first 24 hours after corking. The compressed air inside the bottle has to work its way out past the cork, and it can only do that if the bottle is standing up. If you immediately turn the bottle on its side, the pressure will still be there, but the wine will now be pushing against the cork, and could force it out of the bottle. After 24 hours (or two or three days: it isn't critical) you should turn the bottles on their side for long term storage.

Step 4: Assemble and Test for Leaks - Add a Flower

Once you have assembled the cork and tube into a wine bottle, fill the wine bottle partway with water. Turn it upside down. Water will leak out the tubing until a slight vacuum, and the surface tension at the tubing lip, prevent any more from running out. Inspect carefully for tiny bubbles. If there are bubbles rising, either the cork or the tubing is not making a tight seal and your hummingbird food will all leak out. I used some cooking spray on the tubing until it made an airtight seal. If you can't stop it from dribbling, use the pliers to close the mouth of the tubing so it is just barely open, maybe 1/16".

Bend about 2 feet of #6 copper wire until it cradles the wine bottle upside down, and add a hook on the end for hanging.

Hummers like bright colors. Add a brightly colored "flower" to the tube - it could be a plastic bead, a painted jar lid, etc. I found a purple medicine jar lid and hot-glued it near the end of the tube, after punching a hole.

What is corked wine?

The phrase “corked wine” is often used to describe wine that either tastes or smells bad, but in reality, the phrase relates to the cork itself.

“Most corked wines, including most of the worst, most musty, dank smelling wines, are the result of the cork being tainted with a very powerful chemical compound known as TCA,” Simon explained.”This transfers from the cork to the wine. The main way it gets into the cork is when the cork is being processed and is treated with chlorinated anti-fungal products.”

According to the Wine Institute, TCA — which stands for trichloroanisole — is defined as “the natural compound that at higher levels can impart ‘musty’ flavors and aromas to wines, other beverages, and foods.” Sounds a lot grosser when it’s written out, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do about a corked wine once a wine is corked, it’s sadly ruined forever. But we do have a way around the problem: Buy screw-capped wine! And i you have a special bottle you’re saving, just remember to keep it horizontal.

1) Begin by cutting out your paper hearts – make a “wider heart” than usual – as you will staple it in the middle and narrow it back down again. (Watch the video).

It is important that all 3 hearts are the same size. Maybe make yourself a template first and practice!

2) Cut a slit down the middle of the heart – approximately half way down. Fold back the flaps and staple in place.

3) Yup, your heart is finished. Repeat and make 2 more.

4) Cut a piece of green paper (left over from your main sheet). Apply a big blob of white/ pva glue and place the points of your heart on top. Let dry fully.

FINISHED – and that is how easy and quick it is to make some 3D Paper Shamrock decorations. Lovely!

Enjoy! And wishing you all lots of good luck this Saint Patrick’s Day!

You may also like the following St Patrick’s Day Craft ideas:

or take a look at our Paper Shamrock Decoration for St Paddy’s Day

We also have an extensive list of Rainbow Crafts & Activities – many of which would be perfect for any Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations (rather love the yummy Rainbow Cookies!!):

  1. Gather all the materials and ingredients needed.
  2. Wash the ampalaya thoroughly.
  3. Cut the ampalaya into pieces and remove the middle part of it using a spoon.
  4. Blend the ampalaya in a 50ml of water in a blender.
  5. While blending the ampalaya, submerge the wine bottle in a hot water for 20�mins.
  6. After blending, separate the extracted liquid using a cheese cloth or a clean handkerchief.
  7. When the liquid is successfully extracted, put only 300ml of the ampalaya in the wine bottle together with 300ml of water (amt. of ampalaya = amt. of water).
  8. Add 1 tablespoon (for every 300ml) of yeast and ¾ cup of sugar.
  9. Sealed the wine bottle properly. Make sure that air will not enter inside the bottle.
  10. Wait for 3 weeks or more before enjoying.

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