How to re-wax bottles

Anything to do with Port.
LGTrotter
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How to re-wax bottles

Post by LGTrotter » 17:48 Sat 27 Jul 2013

Thread title re-named by DRT to aid future searches on this topic.

I have just in my rather foolhardy way gone and bought a somewhat iffy but cheap magnum of Warre 1970. The trouble is that it is weeping. I don't want to drink it right now, partly due to the weather and partly as I like to let bottles settle for a few months at least before drinking them. Is there anything I can do to seal it up enough to lay it on its side for six months?

I realise that the best solution would probably be to just to leave it stood up until I drink it but I wondered if there was anything I could do with beeswax or something?

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jdaw1
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Re: Weepers

Post by jdaw1 » 18:36 Sat 27 Jul 2013

You could re-wax it others here have more expertise. But, as it seems that you know, the best course is to stand it until you drink it, and to drink it at first opportunity. There are worse hardships than being forced to drink a magnum of W70.

LGTrotter
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Re: Weepers

Post by LGTrotter » 18:53 Sat 27 Jul 2013

That is true, there are worse fates. I should not repine.

I thought that rewaxing might work, it doesn't look in too bad nick apart from the weep. The colour and fill both look OK which makes me think it might be a recent weep, probably brought about by being moved.

I suppose that I am also daunted by a magnum of port. I can't quite bring myself to look it in the eye if you know what I mean.

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benread
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Re: Weepers

Post by benread » 20:42 Sat 27 Jul 2013

I have a rather old bottle with a small amount of cling film. Probably not a long term solution but avoids any mess!
Ben
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jdaw1
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Re: Weepers

Post by jdaw1 » 21:43 Sat 27 Jul 2013

LGTrotter wrote:I suppose that I am also daunted by a magnum of port. I can't quite bring myself to look it in the eye if you know what I mean.
J R R Tolkien, in The Hobbit, wrote:So now there was nothing left to do but ! unpack the ponies. They distributed the packages as fairly as they could, though Bilbo thought his lot was wearisomely heavy, and did not at all like the idea of trudging for miles and miles with all that on his back.

"Don't you worry!" said Thorin. "It will get lighter all too soon. Before long I expect we shall all wish our packs heavier, when the food begins to run short."
Magnums are just the same: they might seem intimidating at the start, but all too soon they become empty and the drink begins to run short.

LGTrotter
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Re: Weepers

Post by LGTrotter » 01:42 Sun 28 Jul 2013

benread wrote:I have a rather old bottle with a small amount of cling film. Probably not a long term solution but avoids any mess!
What a bold stroke. However I would worry that cling film is a rather slender reed to rest a magnum of port on. I should be in a constant state of anxiety about it.

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Re: Weepers

Post by jdaw1 » 09:12 Sun 28 Jul 2013

LGTrotter wrote:a constant state of anxiety
Which could be lessened, if not eliminated, with a large drink.

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uncle tom
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Re: Weepers

Post by uncle tom » 09:14 Sun 28 Jul 2013

For a temporary fix, cling film secured with a tight elastic band is effective.

For a longer term seal, re-wax or overwax the bottle.

However, you have bought a 43yr old bottle in high summer, and noticed it's leaking slightly. This is not so unusual.

Try rinsing the capsule under a cold tap for a few seconds and then dab it dry with a paper towel. Lay the bottle on its side in your cellar or wine fridge, and keep a close eye on it.

- You may find it never leaks again..
I may be drunk, Miss, but in the morning I shall be sober and you will still be ugly - W.S. Churchill

LGTrotter
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Re: Weepers

Post by LGTrotter » 12:35 Sun 28 Jul 2013

Is there a standard waxing procedure? I thought beeswax as a neutral wax but if there is an accepted norm I would be keen know about it. There is not much left of the wax capsule left and I quite fancied having a go at rewaxing.

Despite Tom’s backing for the cling film idea I still feel that it would not be decorous. Like a baseball cap on a Vermeer.

I shall try the trick of running it under a cold tap and laying it down quietly (out of context this sounds less innocent).

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uncle tom
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Re: Weepers

Post by uncle tom » 15:34 Sun 28 Jul 2013

Is there a standard waxing procedure?
There are two main approaches to this:

1) Secure a supply of traditional sealing wax, melt carefully, dip your cleaned bottle neck quickly, make a half turn of the bottle after withdrawing from the wax and then plunge into cold water. This is the commercial way of waxing because it is quick. You can find YouTube videos demonstrating the method.

Downside: You will probably find it takes time, and a lot of mess, before you get it right. The resulting wax coat is extremely brittle, and the seal tends to be imperfect.

2) Secure a supply of the wax sold as bottle sealing wax by British Wax (http://www.britishwax.com) This is a more rubbery wax that makes a superb seal, which I've been using for the past five years.

- I melt the wax in a one pint stove enamel camping mug which I place in a saucepan into which I've placed a little sunflower oil to transfer the heat. Heat the wax slowly and carefully, not leaving it unattended - hot wax burns readily.. You want the wax to be just over it's melting point, too hot and it becomes too fluid, with not enough adhering to the bottle.

- Clean the top of the bottle carefully. I start by using an old toothbrush, which I dip into hydrogen peroxide - this both sterilises the surface, and frothes on contact with cork, lifting old grime as it does so. This is the only chemical I trust not to taint the content of the bottle. If old wax is still adhering well enough to withstand the rigours of the toothbrush, I now leave it in situ and wax over it.

- After rinsing, I dry the top of bottle with a paper towel, before degreasing the glass of the neck with a paper towel soaked in acetone. The evaporation of the acetone also chills the glass, deterring a phenomenen on leaky bottles whereby the heat of the hot wax drives fluid out of the cork, creating a small 'blow hole' in the new wax.

- Dip the neck of the bottle into the wax and immediately remove it, holding the bottle at 45 degrees over the wax pot, spinning it in your hands as the excess wax drains off. When this has reduced to fine stream, start slowly raising the bottle to the vertical, spinning all the while.

- Next, check the new wax for air bubbles. If found, light a match and hold it close to the wax. This will pop the bubble, and dancing the flame next to the wax will usually cause the resultant void to heal over.

- If you make a mess of the operation, you can either cut the new wax off and start again, or make a second dip. Use acetone in liberal quantity to chill and harden the wax, before dipping again.

- Don’t forget that acetone is highly flammable..!
I may be drunk, Miss, but in the morning I shall be sober and you will still be ugly - W.S. Churchill

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jdaw1
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Re: Weepers

Post by jdaw1 » 16:01 Sun 28 Jul 2013

uncle tom wrote:not leaving it unattended - hot wax burns readily
uncle tom wrote:Don’t forget that acetone is highly flammable
Careful. And make a will.

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Re: Weepers

Post by LGTrotter » 19:50 Sun 28 Jul 2013

Me, some acetone, wax and hydrogen peroxide, what could possibly go wrong? I picture myself, sans eyebrows wandering away from the smoking ruin that was my home. I’ve just got to do it.

This was a most complete set of instructions. Does it not belong in a resource index somewhere?

I would have thought that a bain-marie with sunflower oil would be a bit fierce in terms of heat; surely the melting point of most wax would be below 100 degrees?

Thank you for this, we are not worthy.

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DRT
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Re: Weepers

Post by DRT » 20:00 Sun 28 Jul 2013

LGTrotter wrote:This was a most complete set of instructions. Does it not belong in a resource index somewhere
An excellent idea. A link to Tom's post has been added to this index in the Reference section.
"The first duty of Port is to be red"
Ernest H. Cockburn

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uncle tom
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Re: Weepers

Post by uncle tom » 08:08 Mon 29 Jul 2013

I would have thought that a bain-marie with sunflower oil would be a bit fierce in terms of heat; surely the melting point of most wax would be below 100 degrees?
You can use water, but your mug of wax will tend to float in it if you use too much, or evaporate away if you use a little.

Be careful not to get any water in your wax pot - the combination can result in an eruption of hot wax..
I may be drunk, Miss, but in the morning I shall be sober and you will still be ugly - W.S. Churchill

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Re: Weepers

Post by TLW » 09:43 Mon 29 Jul 2013

I have had a similar situation with a few other bottles over time, including an over-sized magnum of 1963 Dow. Most were dipped in paraffin as per the above, and I do not recall any problems with the contents, although am not sure that I have opened more than one. The 1963 Dow is the question. It was weeping, and I did not want to test what has historically been not the tightest of seals on a cork; I therefore took a small pan of melted paraffin into the cellar and with a cheap basting brush applied it lberally around the top of the bottle and well down the neck, forming what I believe to be a good seal.

As it is probably approaching its peak maturity anyway, it will be sacificed this Christmas on the occasion of a very good friend's 50th birthday. I will let everyone know how it was, but I am less than optimistic about this one. Thus, am likely to include it in a broader tasting of one port each from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and 00s - in which case, tasting notes may be illegible.

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Re: Weepers

Post by DRT » 10:09 Mon 29 Jul 2013

TLW wrote:an over-sized magnum of 1963 Dow
If Carlsberg made magnums!
"The first duty of Port is to be red"
Ernest H. Cockburn

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Re: Weepers

Post by LGTrotter » 13:09 Mon 29 Jul 2013

And the last question is do I go and get another one? I should really try the one I’ve got before venturing on the next. But I always think that having two bottles of a wine is better that just a singleton, one to wash and one to wear so to speak. Or Einmal ist kienmal if I was feeling sophisticated.

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Re: Weepers

Post by djewesbury » 13:12 Mon 29 Jul 2013

LGTrotter wrote:Einmal ist kienmal if I was feeling sophisticated.
Or keinmal, if really super-sophisticated :wink:
Daniel J.
delete.. delete.. *sigh*.. delete...

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Re: Weepers

Post by LGTrotter » 13:27 Mon 29 Jul 2013

A palpable hit. I promise never to try and be sophisticated again, from now on it's Somerset hick. I shall change into my smock and find a piece of straw to suck.

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uncle tom
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Re: Weepers

Post by uncle tom » 13:30 Mon 29 Jul 2013

And the last question is do I go and get another one?
Caution! - put two port bottles together and they start breeding..
I may be drunk, Miss, but in the morning I shall be sober and you will still be ugly - W.S. Churchill

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Re: Weepers

Post by LGTrotter » 13:47 Mon 29 Jul 2013

uncle tom wrote:
And the last question is do I go and get another one?
Caution! - put two port bottles together and they start breeding..
Fear not, I have found a way of stopping the Malthusian expansion of their population; drinking.

I remember thinking some years ago that a dozen good ports would be enough, I've got the other side of ten dozen and still fear for the future. Is there no end to it?

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Re: Weepers

Post by jdaw1 » 13:51 Mon 29 Jul 2013

LGTrotter wrote:I remember thinking some years ago that a dozen good ports would be enough, I've got the other side of ten dozen and still fear for the future. Is there no end to it?
Age of death of father, plus ten years, minus current age, multiplied by desired drinking rate in bottles per year.

Some data might be missing:
• If father alive, or died of non-natural causes, or died unhelpfully young, assume greater of 90 and your current age plus 10.
• If desired drinking rate unknown, assume three a week for yourself so 156 a year. Adjust if married. (If wife a drinker, adjust up. If wife a disciplinarian, adjust slightly down.)

LGTrotter
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Re: Weepers

Post by LGTrotter » 14:05 Mon 29 Jul 2013

Three a week! I have some shopping to do.

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Re: Weepers

Post by Glenn E. » 16:58 Mon 29 Jul 2013

LGTrotter wrote:Three a week! I have some shopping to do.
He was being conservative. You are British, after all. Any lower of an estimate and one might have thought you were American.
Glenn Elliott

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Re: Weepers

Post by DRT » 18:20 Mon 29 Jul 2013

And he was talking about over-sized magnums :wink:
"The first duty of Port is to be red"
Ernest H. Cockburn

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