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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Screwcaps on premium wine

Yeah, screwcaps are a big topic amongst wine geeks. The Traditionalists vs. The Practical as it's usually played out.

What has cork got going for it? It's renewable, sort of, if we don't use it too quickly (like timber).

I worked at a winery using screwcaps on several wines. I occasionally got a call from someone upset or confused about it, but not very often. I also spent quite a bit of time educating customers and that's all right. I'd rather pour good wine for people not sure about our choice of closure than pour crap with a cork.

In the U.S. it's really Gallo's fault because all of their cheap crap many of us remember, not in a good way, comes with screw tops. Other countries don't have this issue with screw tops = cheap, bad wine. Hopefully, we'll get there.

I've opened lots of bottles in tasting rooms and the wine quality and variability by bottle does depend on the winery and their source of corks. It's probably one bottle in every couple cases that is corked. (producing a musty smell to the wine).

The other issue is corked wine is not just and on-off switch. Slightly corked wine doesn't have the musty odor, but it does knock the fruit down. That is there's no fruit aroma or taste. Unless you really know a particular wine it's unlikely you'd detect it as being corked; more likely you'll just think it's not a good wine. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want my product being distributed this way.

So is a screw cap a better closure for wine? Easily. Heck, even wine in a box has a better chance of survival than cork.

It comes down to, would you rather be corked or screwed? :)