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You no longer need fear wines with a screw cap; they have achieved respectability. When you see a screw cap on a bottle of French wine, you know the walls have come tumbling down.Wines with a screw cap is one of the oldest jokes known to man. Never mind the fact that the screw cap is the best way to close and re-close a bottle of liquid. This was a long time coming.
Perception is reality, and the perception was that wines with a screw cap were plonk, as the British say.
Why Are There Wines With a Screw Cap?
What brought this about? Money, what else? Cork tree bark is in short supply and is therefore more costly. Corks come from the cork tree, by the way. The first move away from real cork was the plastic cork a few years ago. However, removing the plastic cylinder doesn’t seem to have the same panache as removing the cork
Enter the screw cap. If you are going to give up some cool, you may as well do it with something that has more functionality and costs less. The cap itself is called a Stelvin Closure. The first “good” wine with a screw cap I saw was from Tin Roof. Now there is a wine labelled Screw Kappa Napa. My kind of fraternity.
What Is The Benefit Of Wines With A Screw Cap?
Aside from tradition, why use a cork at all? Wines designed to age will benefit from a cork; at least most wine people believe they will. Corks will actually let a very small amount of air into the bottle. This happens on a molecular level. A Stelvin closure will allow no air into the bottle. The idea is that an ageworthy wine (not all wines are) will age properly with a cork, but not with a screw cap. This belief is being tested by a few wineries, but it will take a few years to get the results. In the meantime, you can assume that wines with a screw cap will be ready to drink, and those with a cork may change with age. Remember that change is not necessarily improvement. There is also issue of faulty corks. If a cork dries out, then too much air gets into the bottle. Not good. Maybe I’ll write an article called, “When corks go bad”. These wines are just plain awful. This is another reason winemakers are looking for alternatives to corks. I have heard that up to 11% of wine corks are faulty. This has not been my experience, but that statistic is out there.
Some Brand New Screw Cap Wine News!
In a very recent – May 2012 – conversation with a wine rep I know, we were discussing screw caps. He mentioned a California winery that has been bottling a few bottles of good red wine with screw caps every year for about 12 years. They have also taken some of the same wine that is closed with a cork and they have been storing them all right beside each other. Now they have begun to taste the older wines. They have invited very knowledgeable wine people to do this. They are not just relying on their own opinions. The consensus is that there is no difference in these wines, at least up until now. I was very surprised to hear this. I was one of those who believed that corks would allow wines to age properly (please see the last paragraph). Well, the joke is on me and a lot of other stodgy wine people. Now more than ever, do not fear wines with a screw cap! Screw cap wines have just as much chance to be good as wines closed with tree bark.
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