Screw It or Cork It?

Ξ December 21st, 2008 | → 2 Comments | ∇ A Day at a Time, Technology, Wine History |

Donna writes: Screw it or Cork it?
Oh yes, I’m going to open that old mess back up. I figure everyone else has talked and blogged about it, I don’t want to be left out.
vinocor corkThe past year our entire portfolio had 14 bottle returns for cork taint. Versus the volume we do it barely registers a percentage. I personally have not had one bottle I’ve opened be bad, and about 30 cases of bright eyed hopefuls wanting to join my portfolio the past two weeks also brought no cork taint.
So is the cork industry getting better at removing tainted cork during its processing, are wineries doing more tests when receiving new cork supply? Or am I just lucky? I think a bit of both. I would say 80% of my portfolio has cork closures. I’m not offended by screw caps; I love them, for wines meant to be drunk young. Otherwise, cork has no equal in my humble opinion. Yes, I know the heartbreaking ordeal of opening that special bottle we’ve been saving for decades only to find it corked. My answer is I always buy in two’s. If I can’t afford two, I shouldn’t be drinking the first.
But on the other hand, is the public conscious of what corked wine smells like and are my bad bottles just not being returned? What if their comment at the wine bar or dining table, “I don’t like such and such wine” because they got corked bottles and didn’t realize it?
I personally have never met a wine I didn’t like except those corked in the past few years. I’ve favoured some over others, but I wonder if people really didn’t like it or was the wine bad? People frequently ask me what my favorite wine is and my reply is always “The one in my glass right now.” They look at me in disbelief and protest, and I’m always “no, every wine has it’s place and what it’s supposed to be and you have to compare it within the rules of what is, not what you want it to be”. But I’m drifting now….
plastic corksBack to corks. What I can’t stand is those plastic corks. I really want to get on the phone and call the producers and ask them what they are thinking. Well, I can’t lie; I do call them and ask why they are doing it. Hate them.
#1: They have broken 3 of my wine keys. Not my Laguiole, which I would be berserk if it did, but I liked those keys, some were gifts.
#2: Because a lot of plastic corks have food grade oil smoothed on them so you can get the corks out. Nothing like pouring a glass of wine and the cork manufacturer was a little too generous with the oil and there’s a faint coating of oil on the surface of the first glass poured; while it’s not an oil slick, it’s not attractive. I also think I can taste the oil, which of course is probably my prejudice, but all the same, hate it.
#3: They smell like plastic. Cause they are.
#4: Depending on the product it leaks and it’s less oxygen proof than natural cork. Ever put one on its side in your fridge and then when you get it out the next day, there’s a puddle of wine on your shelf? Then you have to clean it up, then you realize the shelf next to it needs a wipe, then the next thing you know, you’re doing a complete hose down of the fridge’s insides instead of drinking wine. Sacrilege!
StelvinI’ve refused to accept wines into the portfolio unless they were closed with Stelvin or natural cork. In this day of economic strife do I have the right to do so? Yes, I think I do. I certainly don’t want my wine to have the cork that breaks the favorite corkscrew of a customer. They aren’t going to remember the cork broke it; they are going to remember my wine broke it, and that gives me economic strife.
Of course I don’t believe in long term aging in Stelvin either. I don’t know about you, but I’ve found some old aluminum screw cap products hidden in a shelf that hadn’t seen light in 8 years and they were corroded. Ever climb into your attic and see your grandmother’s old Mason jar collection? Lids and caps are a little nasty. I can’t imagine pulling out a forgotten bottle from storage and unscrewing a corroded bottle cap only to see little bits of white oxidation particles falling in the wine. Ew.
glass corkSomething that’s recently come onto the market, that I got jazzed over, was the glass stopper. It’s a glass stopper with a flexible o-ring, so no plastic touches the wine, just glass. It’s sterile, preventing contamination or oxidation. Nice. It’s pleasing to the eye. It’s fun to play with, a conversation starter at a dinner party and it’s got the tin capsule giving us a formal opening of the bottle which makes us love natural cork so much. Only drawback is you can’t throw them at your friends like you can real cork. Well, I did, until I embedded one into the drywall.
crown capOne closure I really like, which I’ve seen a few wines bottled, is the crown cap. We already know due to its use in the Champagne region of France it works quite well for aging purposes with recently disgorged selections, but esthetically it’s probably worse than plastic corks to the wine drinking public. But it’s the most cost effective option out there right now and it’s not unpleasing to me for some reason.
Go figure.


2 Responses to ' Screw It or Cork It? '

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  1. Jonathan said,

    on December 21st, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    I love screwtops for my by the glass. I know the consumer will get a good glass, they are easy to close, and easy and fast to open this my bartender can move on. Corks are the best for age. And if I have a special bottle corked, which I have had it was a gift gone bad, that’s life! Sometimes you eat the turtle sometimes the turtle eats you.

  2. CaptainJamie said,

    on December 22nd, 2008 at 8:11 am

    We love screwtops for another reason- great to prevent spills on the boat. Pour a glass, screw the top back on, and the damage is limited to what’s in your glass when that huge wave hits.

    Actually, I am also very sensitive to the least bit of cork rot, and my local wine merchant (Century in Rochester NY) keeps a list of great screwtops for us to try. Our hands-down favorite: any thing from Mollydooker!

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