Tuesday, February 01, 2005

1 Febuary 2005: Screw Caps -- Simple!

Screw caps are going to replace cork, natural or synthetic, as the closure of choice for wine bottles. Simple. Imagine another food or beverage closure that causes 3-10% of the product to be spoiled -- it simply would be unacceptable. But that is the current situation with wine. Natural cork is sometimes tainted with a chemical coumpound called trichloroanasol (or TCA), which ruins the wine in the bottle that cork is sealing. Wineries have been researching the problem for about thirty years. Their conclusion: screw caps are the best closure for wine, both in the short and long run. So, what are the objections?

1. Screw caps aren't as romantic as corks.
Perhaps, but nothing is less romantic than opening, then tasting a "corked" wine. At the least, it doesn't have much smell or flavor at all, but no worry, the taint gets worse with aeration, so the second glass tastes worse than the first -- most people don't make it to a third glass. At the worst, it smells and tastes bad right out of the gate. And so many of us are so intimidated by restaurateurs and retailers that we won't reject or return the bad bottle -- so we're out the money for the wine as well as the romantic evening we were hoping would be enhanced by a nice bottle of wine.

2. Only cheap wine has screw caps.
This used to be true. Not anymore. In fact, some wineries are bottling their best wines with screw caps, leaving their "lesser" wines with corks until they can complete the conversion process from cork to cap.

3. What about long term aging?
Wineries were concerned about whether or not their wines would age properly or at all if closed with screw caps, however, studies have proven otherwise. In fact, wine seems to age at a slower rate when closed with screw caps, but age nonetheless. And with no funky smells or flavors to get in the way.

4. What about synthetic cork?
O.K. perhaps in the short term, but they seem to impart off odors and flavors over the long term. Besides, if screw caps are the best choice, why would you bother to use a closure that imitates natural cork? To save the corkscrew industry? To perpetuate the silly ritual in restaurants when we order wine?

5. What about wine service in restaurants?
What about it? Who needs it? If service staff doesn't have to worry about the bottle-opening ritual anymore, perhaps they'll have more time to actually learn about the wines they sell.

Any other objections you can think of? Let me know...


Post a Comment

<< Home