Saturday, December 20, 2008

To Cork or Not to Cork, That is the Question

More and more wine producers are using metal screw caps to seal their wine bottles and the reasons are all good for the consumer.  The only real loss, in my opinion, is the romance associated with the sound of a cork erupting from the bottle.

You may have noticed that most wine bottles from New Zealand utilize screw caps and Australia is also going in that direction.  Why the shift from cork to metal closures?  TCA or trichloroanisole, a compound formed when chlorine used for bleaching reacts with mold already growing in the cork.  You've probably experienced the musty smell and dull taste of "corked" wine.  Unfortunately, humans are incredibly sensitive to TCA and can detect it in very weak solutions.

The problems with "corked" wine seems to be on the increase because cork manufacturers are having trouble finding enough high quality cork.  Of course, many bottlers are using synthetic cork, but many consumers find them difficult to remove, myself included.

The screw caps mostly used are called Stelvin capsules and are made up of a screw cap, a long printable skirt, and a liner specifically designed for contact with wine and to avoid leakage.  Stelvin seals have doubled in sales during the past two years, particularly in New Zealand and Australia, but also in the French wine areas of Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Alsace.  Perhaps, when the French wineries begin bottling their premium wines with screw caps, we will know that they have achieved acceptance.

Dave Letterman's Top Ten Reasons for Using Metal Screw Caps (Dave didn't really do this list)

10.  Saves cork trees.
  9.  No more "Corked" bottles of wine.
  8.  Bottles can be stored standing up, rather than laying them down.
  7.  Easy to reseal.
  6.  A resealed bottle of wine won't leak while on its side in the refrigerator.
  5.  The screw cap won't break in half while opening the bottle.
  4.  You only need an opposable thumb to open a screw cap.
  3.  Easier to sneak one more glass before one will hear a cork pop.
  2.  My Trader Joe's monthly newsletter will be renamed, from "Uncorked" to "Unscrewed."

And the #1 reason for using a wine bottle with a screw cap rather than a cork...

  1.  Easier to sneak it into the movies.


At December 20, 2008 at 4:58 PM , Blogger Abigail Adams said...

Dear Tom Da Wine Guy,
One of my best memories is of a special dinner with a special guy who took the little wire basket off the champagne bottle and twisted it into a little chair. I guess it didn't take much to make me happy those days. . . but I must say, I try to be as green as the next girl, but I draw the line at letting 'em put screw off or coke-bottle top lids on champagne. Can we please just agree here, in the spirit of Christmas?


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home