Since the day screwcaps were introduced, it has been a controversial subject. Each have their good points and their bad points. The major downside to corks is that every now and then you must deal with what is known as cork taint or a bottle being “corked”. A corked wine is caused by a reaction to the chlorine that is used to sanitize some corks. It is believed that around 5% of wines sold in the world that use corks are tainted. While unpleasant to taste, cork taint is not in any way harmful to humans. Corked wines smell and taste of damp, soggy, wet or rotten cardboard. The upside of corks is that for wines that will be aged for long periods of time, the porous nature of cork allows the wine to breathe a little oxygen into the bottle and let other gases out. This helps a wine mature over time. On the other hand, screwcaps are not good for ageing wine as the seal is too tight and won’t allow the wine to mature properly.
How many wines, made across the world, are aged for more than 5 years? Well, did you know that the vast majority of wine is not aged, it is estimated that 90% of wine is meant to be consumed within a year of production, and 99% of wine within 5 years.
So, using cork is not necessary for 99% of the wines being produced. It comes down to two things: Some wine producers just love the cork enclosure for historic reasons and they just do not like screwcaps. There is also the issue of screwcaps having a stigma, as consumers think screwcaps are only used on inferior wines – that is just not the cause at all. Screwcaps are easy to open and do not require a corkscrew to open your wine. The Screwcap also provides a good seal if there is some wine leftover in a bottle you want to save – I never seem to have that problem.
So, which is better? Well, in my opinion, if you plan on aging an expensive wine for a long time then the wine should have a cork enclosure. Beyond that, what enclosure a bottle of wine has does not factor into my buying criteria.
So, go ahead…twist the cap or pop the cork…and enjoy!
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