The Great Debate-Cork vs Screw Cap

Corks or Screwcaps for your wine?

Corks or Screwcaps for your wine?

Two weeks ago I visited CBS12 WPEC for a segment on Cork vs Screw Cap with Suzanne Boyd and Eric Roby. I find it interesting that today my good friend Cynthia from Passaggio wines tweets out a post about cork making a comeback as the wine enclosure of choice. I find the data a tad underwhelming, and I think it remains to be seen the true volume of wineries switching back to cork from screw cap. My segment, below, discusses whether or not cork or screw caps are a better seal, and whether cheaper wines use screw caps. Check it out, and let me know your thoughts or questions.

For those without the time or ability to watch the two minute video, I’ll give you my summary below the video.

 

I don’t think cork is a better enclosure than a screw top, and neither do some very prominent wineries. Tests have shown that in the short term, meaning 10 years and under, Stelvin screw caps were as good of a seal for wine, if not better than cork. Hogue Cellars did 30 months of studies on cork versus screw cap, and Plump Jack has done similar studies, with both showing aging wine with a screw cap for 10 years fresher fruit while still showing the qualities desirable from aging.   More data needs to be done for long term aging, of course, and technology advances in the Stelvin screw caps will help with that.

As far as whether or not cheaper wines use screw top and not cork, I can settle that quite easily. I could list off the dozens, if not hundreds of wineries of high quality, and often high priced wine that are using screw tops. However, I’ll just refer to Plump Jack who has done several rounds of testing with screw cap, and offers their 2008 Cade Cabernet Sauvignon under screw cap for $72. I haven’t visited Plump Jack since 2008, however their wines have been rated in the 95+ point category by critics in recent vintages. So, if a top tier Napa Cab can be under screw cap, why shouldn’t other wines use screw caps as well?

I find it amusing that Treehugger says the wine snobs are the ones pushing wineries to use cork again. There are millions of bottles of wine produced in France alone. Add Italy, Germany, Chile, Argentina, and the United states, and you’re approaching an absurd number of bottles. And there aren’t enough wine snobs in the world to consume them all. So, can a small minority of people really dictate what enclosures the wine industry uses? I find that hard to fathom.

Additionally, much of the red wine released into the market is consumed in a relatively short time span from it’s release and purchase. This makes the need to store those wines long term unnecessary, leaving little to no difference between the cork or screw cap enclosure. So, can it be the romaticisim of the sound of a cork popping that drives people to want cork enclosures.  Maybe. For me, I’m quite happy with my screw caps.

 

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  • http://twitter.com/Sedimentblog The Sediment blog

    Ah yes, the romanticism of the cork popping, embedded in our psyche like the crack of leather upon willow…

    But then, we’re English.

  • http://vinosambiz.blogspot.com Fabio (Vinos Ambiz)

    For me the most important issue is not the technical aspects of the closure itself, but the environmental issues, ie screwcaps and plastic closures cause pollution to the envionment via the aluminium and petroleum industries. Natural cork, although not 100% perfect (what is?) is acceptable enough to me.  The unnecessary use of these finite resources is causing great damage to the envionment that will cost a lot more to clean up in the future than the savings gained now.

  • http://vinosambiz.blogspot.com Fabio (Vinos Ambiz)

    For me the most important issue is not the technical aspects of the closure itself, but the environmental issues, ie screwcaps and plastic closures cause pollution to the envionment via the aluminium and petroleum industries. Natural cork, although not 100% perfect (what is?) is acceptable enough to me.  The unnecessary use of these finite resources is causing great damage to the envionment that will cost a lot more to clean up in the future than the savings gained now.

  • http://vinosambiz.blogspot.com Fabio (Vinos Ambiz)

    For me the most important issue is not the technical aspects of the closure itself, but the environmental issues, ie screwcaps and plastic closures cause pollution to the envionment via the aluminium and petroleum industries. Natural cork, although not 100% perfect (what is?) is acceptable enough to me.  The unnecessary use of these finite resources is causing great damage to the envionment that will cost a lot more to clean up in the future than the savings gained now.

  • http://www.whichwinecooler.com Too Much Wine

    I have no problem with screw caps as long as I plan on drinking the wine quickly from its inception. I don’t want to age a bottle of wine for 5 years in my wine cooler just to pop a screw cap. I think the cork has its place in some applications and so does the screw cap.

  • http://wandering-wino.com Shawn Burgert

    So great to see this and help the revolution to allow people to not get hung up on the packaging being the determing factor to the quality of a wine. I just interviewed a well known winemaker recently who gets high scores and all wines are screw cap. Love it! Cheers Matthew!

  • http://www.therealargentina.com/ The Real Argentina

    You make an interesting point — most wine is consumed relatively soon after production, not stored for long periods of time.  For these wines, it often make sense to use screwcaps.  Andrew Catchpole recently gave us his thoughts about this controversial issue, particularly from an Argentine perspective: http://www.therealargentina.com/argentinian-wine-blog/the-endless-debate-screw-cap-wine-vs-cork/

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