Monday, December 30, 2013

Screw caps or cork?

Screw cap or cork? The long debate that many are not knowledgeable about, which was apparent to me when I used to work in retail. I would have folks ask for a recommendation and if I would bring them over to a screw cap they would ask for something that had a cork. No other reason than they felt that they would look cheap at a party or they wanted to go through the motion of pulling a cork. I can understand enjoying pull the cork out of the bottle because I like the process myself, but if anyone looked at me cheaply because I bought a screw cap I couldn't help but laugh for their ignorance. 


The problem with corks is that about 5% of wines, give or take, are ruined due to the wine being “corked”. You will know it when it happens. It can be described as if smelling a wet dog or it has a moldy, musty smell. I'm sure many of you don't enjoy that nor would you want to drink something that smells like that. This is caused by TCA, trichloroanisole, which is a reaction between molds and the chemicals used in the cork production.


Screw caps first boomed in New Zealand and many Australian producers have adopted using it as well. A lot of the Old World countries are slow to adopt the transition of some of their wines to screw caps like Italy and France. Screw caps provide freshness to the wine without ruining it due to any oxidation or being “corked”. There is a question whether some of the long-term aging wines will develop in the bottle and grow with age using this method. Another benefit to bottles with screw caps is that you can keep the bottle upright, on its side, upside down, whichever way you want where with corks it must be at least on it's side for the wine to come in contact with the cork or else the cork will begin to dry and air will seep in oxidizing the wine.


There is another option of replacing corks instead of the screw cap and that is synthetic corks made from plastic. If I had to choose these over corks though I would go with corks because synthetics aren't proving to be solving the problem either as oxidation can slowly take place with these, therefore, if you wanted to age this wine at all it's not reliable.


I think as the years go on and as more and more producers begin to introduce their wines with a screw cap people are getting to understand the benefits to it, but I think we still have a ways to go with the general public.