Wine Talk

Snooth User: Tombalina Wines

Screw caps Vs cork

Posted by Tombalina Wines, Sep 12, 2010.

So I'm just wondering......what's everyone's take on the old screw caps vs cork debate....?  How would you best describe the role of each, and overcome perceptual barriers....?

1 2 3 4 next

Replies

20
2886
Reply by Richard Foxall, Sep 12, 2010.

Okay, here we go.  The cork is a bad way to seal wine.  You have to store it on the side, which can be inconvenient and means you have to let it sit upright for 24 hours before drinking if it's throwing sediment at all.  Corks are unreliable, both intrinsically--a natural product with not completely predictable shrinkage--and practically, since the manufacturers let a fair number of bad ones through.  They degrade even under good conditions--I have yet to open a wine that is more than 12 years old--you could probably make it 10-- and not have to very carefully remove the cork, usually with an ah-so (two prong) puller.  Sometimes it's fine, but more often it's showing signs of crumbliness.  Screw tops are reliable, and just Friday I was in a nice wine shop in San Francisco and a customer opted for a wine--a well-regarded Saintsbury pinot--because it had a screw cap. Don't have to remember to bring a corkscrew.  We got into a discussion with the clerk, and I pointed out that Australian wines at all price points are going to screw caps.  I found an example with a cap that looked very much like a capsule--you couldn't tell at first glance--so they can even look classy.

What does the cork still have going for it?  Romance, and something you can look at the next day to remind you when you write tasting notes--in case you threw the bottle away without noting what year it was, or something like that.  (Still not going to have complete information.)

Americans still seem to like to sniff the cork, which is utterly meaningless and, in most places, gauche.

27
1257
Reply by Stephen Harvey, Sep 12, 2010.

I agree with Foxall's analysis.  There is no doubt about the downsides in relation to cork and there is no doubt that all wine that is likely to be consumed within 12 months of purchase that cork has absolutely no advantages over cork.  I can't recall the stats but I think something like >80% of all wine purchased by consumers is drank within 24 hours and <less than 10% is purchased for keeping [including restaurants with long life cellar lists]

The US market has been one of the most resistant to the move to screwcap especially for high end wines.  But I have faith that the US consumer will increasingly understand the benefits to them such as fresher wines, no cork taint, reduced oxidation, crumbling corks, storage benefits etc etc of moving to screw cap.

To me the only remaining debate is the long term aging aspect of cork v Screw cap.  Now having had the opportunity to taste aged rieslings under both cork and Screw cap with Rob Hill-Smith of Yalumba [these rieslings are between 10-60yo]  [He has been experimenting with Screw cap since mid 70's] it is clear to me that screw cap delivers a much more interesting, consistent and "clean" aged Riesling.  The wine has still got all of the characteristics of aged riesling you want and expect and muck lower risk of packaging faults impacting your drinking experience.

To me the interesting fact I want to find out [not sure how we do this] is how a Bordeaux 1st growth or Burgundy Grand Cru red or white [esp a DRC] would fair

For the record, I had a slightly corked 95 D'Yquem at a tasting recently so if the cork people can't guarantee quality for the big Y them what hope has lesser wine got under cork

152
1907
Reply by napagirl68, Sep 12, 2010.

100% pro screw cap.  Have had ~20% of my wine undrinkable from cork taint.  It is so common (at least here in CA) that beginners think that musty, mildew taste is what the wine is supposed to taste like.  Wineries who buy cheap corks suffer the most, but no one is spared.  All it takes is one pesky spore to spoil a fantastic wine- and it does spread.  Think of those horrible mushrooms that pop up on your grass.  They can literally take over.

I, personally, have no romance with the cork.  My romance comes AFTER the wine, cork or screwcap. ;-)

3
5
Reply by Zesty1, Sep 12, 2010.

There is nothing less romantic than going on a picnic only to discover you forgot the cork screw!

But on a serious note as a wine consumer I am pro screw caps 100% for 2 reasons - firstly the quality of the wine is far superior and consistent (goodbye corkage!)  and secondly for the convenience, so much easier to open a screw cap and replace it if you dont finish the bottle..

 

152
1907
Reply by napagirl68, Sep 12, 2010.

Zesty1-  Wishful thinking on the good-bye corkage thing.  That is merely a term- they will begin to call it "wine service" if screwcaps ever take over.  You will never outrun a restaurant's ability to charge you to bring your own wine in.. cause that's what it really is.  I think it is ridiculoous to say it is because of "glassware" or time, or whatever (in most cases).  It is because they are losing out on your wine purchase, and want to offset that a bit, and/or trying to pressure a wine lover into buying their wine vs. paying a fee to drink yours.

3
5
Reply by Zesty1, Sep 12, 2010.

Napagirl - You are right, I am sure they will catch on...but have got away with it 3 times recently. The wait staff generally just dont know how to respond when you say they cant charge corkage if there is no cork! 

152
1907
Reply by napagirl68, Sep 12, 2010.

Ha ha ha!!  I LOVE it, Zesty!  I gotta try that one...  in my experience, they are probably all 20-somethings that think you are drinking the cheapest, crappiest wine on the face of the earth because of the screwcap.  They prolly didn't charge cause they felt sorry for you.. LOL!!!

0
137
Reply by Charles Emilio, Sep 12, 2010.

Corks are better than screwcaps because apparently when you open a corked bottle there is a magical "pop" sound that everyone loves to hear.

20
6647
Reply by dmcker, Sep 12, 2010.

Don't you know, Charles, that it's actually uncool to unleash that pop? Or do you also try to shoot champagne corks across the room?  ;-)

152
1907
Reply by napagirl68, Sep 12, 2010.

I love to hear the wine pouring into my glass, Charles!  :-) Regardless of how it makes its way out of the bottle.

27
1257
Reply by Stephen Harvey, Sep 13, 2010.

Charles

I presume your comment was tongue in cheek?

My usual comment to people who still hang onto the romance and theatre of popping a cork is

"There is no romance in bad wine - get over it"

But my line is not as profound as Napagirl's and the corollary to her proposition is that - Opening a corked wine may lead to no romance!!!!

0
23
Reply by drinkersdigest, Sep 13, 2010.

Ironically in the cork vs alternative closure debate some sparkling producers now leave their wine under crown seal post disgorging.

The one wine you never needed a corkscrew for now requires a bottle opener.

20
2886
Reply by Richard Foxall, Sep 13, 2010.

drinkersdigest--that's really hilarious.  I can now see people using the car door to open champagne... no, I can't. 

NG has it right that the romance is spoiled when the wine is spoiled. 

I find sometimes the "pop" is unavoidable if the cork is just too tight.  And I confess that I have shot a few corks across the room during the "champagne wars" at the dining hall of a prestigious East Coast university.  You know, the kind of thing that your mom said could cost someone an eye.  But it's as gauche as sniffing the cork. (Disclaimer: I was visiting a girlfriend at the time.  But I cannot guarantee that the students at Brown have better manners than I did.)

Can't say the neo-corks are a solution--some are okay, none are great, and more than a few smell like car tires.  On the whole, I think that, even if you are "laying down" wine (a term whose origin will disappear if you can store your wine right side up!), I can see only large potential for downside from contact between wine and cork.  I can't think of any flavors I want from a cork, even a clean one. Only thing I can think is that the slight amount of air that can get in around a cork on occasion is somehow beneficial, and that the screw cap would prevent this.  That's not a theory many wine lovers are going to embrace, and, if the answer is that wine needs more oxygen than it gets from the ullage, then add a little more space in the neck--which the screw cap actually does, since it doesn't go down the neck.

Corked Yquem--that says it all.

20
2886
Reply by Richard Foxall, Sep 13, 2010.

SH: If you get the chance to blind test some DRC in screw cap and cork, let me know.  Not so opposed to corks that I would not be willing to take one for the cause.

23
19
Reply by chriscage, Sep 13, 2010.

For practicality/quality/convenience.....Screwtop!

0
23
Reply by drinkersdigest, Sep 13, 2010.

@Foxall... that really is VERY open minded of you.

One rumor I've heard about cork taint regarding ancient bottles 30yrs+ that've been affected by TCA, is the wet dog, cardboard flavour actually blows off with time. Though the wine will not be as the winemaker perhaps intended. Anyone had any experience with this??

0
2
Reply by Bobteeter, Sep 13, 2010.

I have been drinking wine since 1960 and so far I have had two corked bottles,   One was just a couple of weeks ago.  My interest is to see what the long term aging aspects of highend Burgundy, Bordeaux, etc. is with screwcaps.  I'm talking 20 to 100 years.

20
2886
Reply by Richard Foxall, Sep 13, 2010.

bobteeter--going to be hard to do that 100 year experiment, since they haven't started yet.  Wine has some positive effects on longevity, but that's a stretch. Meanwhile, you have been very lucky indeed to have only two corked wines. I take it that number does not include wines where the cork crumbled as it was pulled but didn't ruin the wine? 

drinkersdigest--I assume you are speaking of my offer to SH to taste the DRC under rigorous conditions.  Just to show my magnanimity, I will extend the offer to first growths, northern Rhones, Barolos, and better CdP.  And select California cabs.  See?  I really am trying to help.

We'll celebrate the outcome with some crown-capped bubbly opened with the car door (or the elbow of my friend Stephanie--a great parlor trick!)--I am even open minded to that idea.  

12
3
Reply by ct deejay, Sep 13, 2010.

Foxall has, for my money, said it best, and I even agree about the neocorks sometimes having an unpleasant odor. I can report that I've had a couple of corks crumble on me. So much for the "romance" of real cork. Screw caps are without a doubt the logical way to go. Period. Maybe the ardent oenophiles disapprove of screw caps, but too bad.

20
2886
Reply by Richard Foxall, Sep 13, 2010.

ct deejay: Thanks for the kind words.  I think there are a lot of "ardent oenophiles" on here, and the vote seems to be unanimous.  Let's see if any of the wineries still holding out are paying attention. As always, SH and I hold ourselves out as guinea pigs to fine winemakers everywhere. (I am really working that angle, thanks, SH!)

Of course, think of our kids growing up without the cork metaphors--bobbing like a cork, blowing one's cork--and no one ever "laying down" wine again.  Unless they have another reason, since it does allow you to stick them sideways and fit more bottles in.  I always loved the Monty Python sketch about Australian table wines: "This one is for laying down... and avoiding."

 

1 2 3 4 next



Continue to the end of the thread to reply
Back to Categories

Top Contributors This Month

125836 Snooth User: dmcker
125836dmcker
71 posts
324443 Snooth User: outthere
324443outthere
47 posts
1498622 Snooth User: Really Big Al
1498622Really Big Al
46 posts

Categories

View All




Snooth Media Network