Thursday, September 07, 2006

Screwtops - Maybe Not So Bad After All?

I've had many discussions with my husband Mark about the benefits of cork vs. screwtops for wine. The discussions usually follow the same route - he says that corks are archaic and a pain, and I say that screwtops are an indication of cheapo wine. Then we just drink whatever we've opened and that's the end of it.

But recently, while writing an article on screwtops vs corks, I learned some things that made me (at least slightly) rethink my position. First of all, cork taint affects a LOT of wine - statistics indicate that as many as 5% of wines are ruined by it. Plastic or synthetic corks prevent cork taint, but are a bear to pull out - even with a good corkscrew - and are even worse to try to get back into the bottle. New Zealand decided to address this problem by using screwtops for their wine. I read a recent statistic that showed that 70% of New Zealand wine is now topped with a screwtop! Other countries have begun adopting screwtops as well, and California's PlumpJack Winery has bottled its high-end reserve wine in a screwtop. Hey - if it's good enough for PlumpJack, it should be good enough for me, right?

There are clearly some benefits to screwtops. They are easy to open, easy to reseal, and you don't have to store wine on its side to keep the screwtop damp. You don't need a fancy opener. But there are some downsides too... for example, you don't need a fancy opener. The ceremony of uncorking a wine will be reduced to a twist of the wrist - the same as you'd do for a bottle of Pepsi. Does that take away some of the 'fun' of wine drinking? For some of us, perhaps it does.

I'll be interested to see what other wineries adopt the screwtop, and which ones go for alternatives to cork or screwtops - such as glass stoppers. In the meantime, I won't turn up my nose to a screwtop wine.


Blogger knowlengr said...

I take back everything I've ever said about this writer's stubborn tendencies.

I'd like to cap off my appreciation for this blog entry by noting that, just as bottles and labels can be aesthetically appealing, a screw top need not be a clumsy and artless addition. Both to look at, and, of course, to take off.

11:59 PM  

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