Still wary of wine bottles sealed with a screw cap? While that might have been understandable years ago, today screw caps are gaining popularity, and for good reason.
Here are four reasons why oenophiles everywhere should embrace the screw cap.
No more corked wine
There’s nothing like spending serious money on a nice bottle of wine with the intention of saving it for a special occasion only to discover it’s been ruined by cork taint. It’s heartbreaking. Cork taint is caused by bacteria known as TCA (2, 4, 6-trichloroanisole) which can be found in natural cork material. Bottles sealed with tainted corks can result in a wine smelling like musty, moldy cardboard and the incidence of TCA taint is said to affect between 1 to 3 percent of all wine sealed with cork. That’s why approximately 85 percent of wine produced in Australia and 90 percent in New Zealand is currently bottled under screw cap, which virtually guarantees a wine will be free of cork taint, leaving the consumer reassured that special bottle will be good to go on that special occasion.
Consistency is key
Have you ever enjoyed a bottle of wine only to open another bottle of the same wine to find it tastes different? Because cork is a natural product with natural variations, it can change the flavor profiles of the same wine. Florent Baumard, owner of Domaine des Baumard in France’s Loire Valley and screw cap pioneer, made a risky move with his 2003 and 2004 vintages, bottling them under screw cap rather than cork. So how have his wines fared 10 years later? Baumard observed the Stelvin closures (what the wine trade refers to as screw caps) allowed the wines to maintain their character and found the taste didn’t change as much from bottle to bottle compared to the years he worked with cork, an issue that had concerned him since he took over the estate from his father in the 1990’s.
Preserving freshness and aging potential
While initially thought of cork as the only option for age-worthy reds, there are now screw cap closures with varying levels of oxygen transfer. So whether the goal is to preserve the freshness of a stainless steel fermented Sauvignon Blanc or allow some degree of oxygenation with a Cabernet Sauvignon, the screw cap now has a wider range of applications. Starting with their 1997 vintage, California’s Plumpjack Winery made the decision to bottle their finest Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon under screw cap. Winemaker Danielle Cyrot comments, “[Screw caps] are the best way to ensure that every single bottle that you open as a consumer is exactly as the winemaker intended.”
Easy to open and re-close
There’s nothing more frustrating than finding yourself with a great bottle of wine and someone to share it with, but no means of opening it.
Whether you’re traveling, tailgating or the TSA has confiscated yet another wine key, the screw cap guarantees you’ll never be denied your favorite wine. On the occasion you find yourself with wine left in the bottle, the screw cap can easily be resealed rather than having to clumsily jam an inverted cork back into the bottle and trying to find a spot in your fridge that’s tall enough to accommodate it.
Stephanie Miskew is a certified sommelier, wine educator and proprietor of The Wine Atelier, an online wine boutique. She also runs the The Glamorous Gourmet, a website dedicated to wine and entertaining.