When it comes to popular and seemingly preferred ways to close wine, the cork is one that tends to be the most widely used. In the beginning, corks were the primary method of stopping wine, but in the 1960s, a new choice appeared for closing wine bottles: the screw cap. Though screw caps have been a common fixture in the industry for the last half-century or so and even make up almost 90 percent of closures in countries like New Zealand, screw caps seem to be looked down upon when compared to cork tops.
In fact, screw top enclosures are actually much better for storing the wine than corks are, but many people, mostly amateur wine enthusiasts who don’t know any better, don’t appreciate them for what they are and prefer bottles that have real corks sitting in their wine refrigerator. There are a few key differences between cork and screw cap wines that make the latter a better standard, and we’ll compare them below.
For centuries, the cork has been the number one way to stop up a bottle of wine, as it known to be able to help preserve wine for many years, thanks to the natural material that facilitates better long-term aging and even helps certain varietals age a certain way. But, are corks really the best? Corks truly are far from perfect when it comes down to the packaging and storing of wine, and one of those reasons is that they are expensive to use. The extra cost of two to three times more for a cork comes down on the consumer. Alongside this, corks can age and breathe, which allows the oxygen to enter the bottle freely and slowly, which not only helps the aging process along but could lead to oxidization over time that ruins the quality of wine. Corks can also cause other undesirable changes to wine, including “cork taint” that affects as many as one to three percent of all wines consumed.
Screw Cap Wines
Screw cap wines, for one, tend to start off by being much more affordable to add to your wine refrigerator. They’re a lot easier to get into and will leave you feeling less frustrated the next time you want a glass of wine only to end up fighting with your corkscrew. The likelihood of any screw caps affecting wine in the way of “cork taint” is slim to none, helping to reduce the chance of flaws in the wine. Of course, the screw cap doesnÕt come without its downfalls, and those include environmental concerns since the caps aren’t biodegradable. They also don’t allow the wine to breathe in the way that a cork does, even if the idea that wine needs to age to be good has all but been debunked. The biggest stigma surrounding screw cap wines is that they are indicative of lesser quality wine, but this simply isn’t trueÑmany fine winemakers use screw caps.
So, the next time you’re standing in front of a wall of wine trying to decide which to try, don’t limit your search to those only with a cork. You could really be missing out and for no good reason at all.