Screw the Cork? | Screw the Cap?

Screw the cork?  Not so fast!
Both the cork as well as the screw cap have their place in today's wine world.
While some may say - sealing a bottle of wine with a screw cap is inferior to one sealed with a cork, the truth is, unless you plan to age your bottle for decades, the only thing a cork does guarantee, is a one-in-twelve chance of your bottle being, well, "corked." 
For the young and spontanious wine drinkers, it also guarantees a 100% chance you'll need a cork screw on hand to open it easily which obviously is very inconvenient if you're unprepared (that wouldn't happen to me as I always have a cork screw near by but that is certainly not the norm :) ).

So, my recommendation is the following:
If you are looking
to buy a bottle today and enjoy it within the next two or three years and its a "ready to drink" wine, follow the new generation and say:
Screw the cork, choose the cap.
However if you plan to age the wine for 10+ years and know it will benefit from laying down, screw the cap, choose the cork!

The bottom is line is that cork is becoming more and more less popular amongst young wine makers for various reasons.  One reason certainly being the fact that a bottle sealed with a cap, or even a synthetic stopper ensures your wine will not be contaminated with TCA. TCA is a musty by-product of the process many wineries use to keep things sterile and while drinking a bottle contaminated with TCA will not make you ill, it will offer a musty bouquet of wet cardboard, or just taste "off." 
Wine presenting this unfortunate condition leads to another reason, more and more wine makers use synthetic or screw cap closures; because if the wine is said to be corked or have cork taint, for the general public is often simply seen as a bad wine and therefore they wouldn't order or buy it again.

Does this mean you should avoid all wines with a cork enclosure? Absolutely not! Many great wineries have not yet made the transition to screw cap enclosures for various reasons as well.  The most common reason being that they're concerned that their wine will be perceived as cheap.  Another is that there are still lots of restaurant wine buyers who have an older clientele that want to have the proper wine service done table side and in their eyes that means "Pull the cork!".
On the contrary - Enology instructor Tim Donahue says "Winemakers will spend years on site selection, soil amendments, clonal selection, canopy design and spray programs. They will monitor water stress, leaf pull, fruit thin, measure phenolic data. use a 100% sterile bottling line and bottles, and then, just for the hell of it, shove an old piece of tree bark in the neck of the bottle and hope everything works out."

92% of the time it does work out, and for the one-in-twelve chance it doesn't, write it off as being "lucky" enough to finally know what a bad bottle smells like. And the next time, why not give a capped bottle a chance?

I say - it depends on the wine and on the occasion!

What is your thought?


  1. Wines is much like a great piece of music or an incredible album. It's amazing the year or vintage, and how the weather co operates makes such an amazing expression of fruit, finesse and style of wine. What a great blog, it's really what the wine maker or artist wants to cork or seal the bottle with!

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