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Looking for Closure: Screwcaps vs. Corks


Rosie
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So can we conclude that that it is possible to get a "corked" screw top wine ?

Has anyone expierienced this ?

Sadly yes, at a tasting we couldn't work out why the contents of a screw top bottle were "corked", we put it down to poor winemaking but maybe it was not in the way we thought.

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Craig,

Thanks for the link.

I remember well being on a judging panel at the Indiana Stae Fair. The late wine writer Jerry Mead ("Wine Curmudgeon") said he had a corked wine. The director, Dick Vine, said impossible and brought out, in total, two more samples from two different bottles that were also corked. Turns out they were screw cap wines and I guess Jerry was correct!!

With all we have read recently about Gallo, BV, Hanzell, Ch. Canon, etc., it ain't just the cork producers anymore.

Phil

I have never met a miserly wine lover
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  • 4 weeks later...

Owen Dugan's February 18, 2004, Wine Spectator article here.

"It's real glass, with a liner that's the same as screw caps," said Thomas Strieder, business development manager of Alcoa's closure division in Germany. "It has no taste and allows no deterioration [of the wine]."

Cheers!

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  • 3 months later...

An interesting marketing idea, put together by the folks at Alcoa, from this article in today's MSNBC:

Alcoa’s new Vino-Lok closure, which resembles a slightly flattened version of those glass stoppers from chemistry class, seems to solve both sides of the cork conundrum: It is both safe and stylish.

Rubberized O-rings provide a sterile seal, but the stopper’s real virtue is its construction.  It looks at home atop even expensive bottles, can be colored to match the bottle and labeled to promote the winery. Removing one is not unlike popping a champagne cork -– with thumbs under the lip or a firm twist and pull.  Drinkers can recap the bottle should they want to save some for later.

“It’s what we call the marriage between the winemaker needs and the consumer needs,” says Juan Lopez of Alcoa Closure Systems International.

Thoughts anyone?

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BUT,BUT ; Corkscrew Envy!!!! Will this lead to a comparison of thumbs to see whose are bigger, better or prettier.

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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Rubber o-ring design is not so simple trivial where a very tight seal is required (think space shuttle Challenger). They do not always provide a secure seal across load and temp conditions; one might wonder how stable they are over time. For all I know, though, they might work just fine under the conditions in a typical cellar.

The glass part of device sounds pretty cool and the whole contraption can't possibly be worse to deal with than the compressed foam fake corks -- I was a bit surprised to see that Behrens & Hitchcock used those for some recent vintages.

Bring on the thumb envy, says I.

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You know the main reason screw caps haven't caught on?

Infrastructure.

Those machines at the winery that insert the corks are VERY expensive. Even a small winery can spend upwards of $100K on a corking machine for their bottling line. Wineries need to get some return on that investment and push the machinery to the point of breakdowns before they can really even think of changing their closure systems.

More and more wines are coming out with screw tops and I would imagine that we'll see them on all the low to mid priced wines by 2010.

Andy Szmidt

WineMiles.com - great wines! low prices!

The early bird may get the worm. But it is the second mouse that gets the cheese.

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This is a case of what is old is new again.....

I have some antique bottles, unfortunately in storage or I would post a photo, that have glass stoppers and a wire bail to hold the stoppers in place.

The best thing about these is that they are easy to sterilize and one would never have a "corky" wine.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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If the "O" ring is providing the seal, we have to assume some contact between wine and rubber. However small that contact, over time I'd worry about how it might affect the taste of the wine. Does anyone know if that's a problem.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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What about aging?

How can there be a biological interaction between wine, ullage, neck glass, O- rings, more glass within, and cellar air? The O-ring system wil stop all interaction, whereas a cork cannot, and has enabled slow maturation since its inception. Maybe the O-rings would age the wine if Nasa's suppliers were available.

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I have also heard -- more than once -- that one big reason that winemakers haven't adopted Stelvin closures is that they're just not sure whether wines will age the same with a screwcap as with a cork. After all, cork is somewhat porous. After seeing the photograph of this closure, I am very dubious as to whether this type of closure would hold up over time. It almost looks like the kind of thing that might tend to loosen up and maybe fall out after a long time on the rack.

Don Moore

Nashville, TN

Peace on Earth

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Wine aging is essentially a reductive (i.e. anerobic) process. The only risk to aging wine in screwcapped bottles would be if the caps failed before the wine matured, and the jury is still out on that. Anyway, even cork should be replaced after a few decades; IIRC Lafite-Rothschild recommends 30 years and even organizes recorking clinics for the purpose. For more info, see the recent if off-topic Twist cap wines... discussion on the Montreal, Quebec and Eastern Canada forum.

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Corks #1 They smell good. They make that highly satisfying pop which precedes the initial gurgle from a full bottle. They can be used to make cat toys, bulletin boards, wreaths, birdhouses, and in a pinch can be used as a pacifier.

Glass tops #2 Definitely a cool idea as we can save our empty wine bottles and reuse them for our private beer production.

Screw tops #3 You can't even flick them like beer caps without cutting your thumb.

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  • 4 weeks later...

It is all well and good putting the 2002 Pavillon Rouge in screw cap bottles, but those customers who bought it en primeur might not be quite so happy! I think that there could have been some prior warning.

Pontallier may well be taking a bold step but I do not think that he has taken his customers' views into account - but hey the wine has already been sold!!

It will be interesting to see how it does age.

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It is certainly frustrating to find corked bottles of wine, but frustration may not be a good reason for making such a drastic change.

When you open a corked $400 bottle of wine "frustration" isn't the first word that comes to mind. :smile:

Corks aren't the only source of TCA. Both BV and Gallo have recently discovered that their TCA problems were coming from elsewhere in their facilities. Any idea if screwcaps can prevent TCA from penetrating the bottle during storage. My assumption is yes, but...

Drink!

I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. --John Mortimera

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Has anyone actually done a taste test comparing wines with cork to wines with screw-tops? I guess it could be difficult because I assume the same wine doesn't come with both types of closures, so an accurate comparison isn't possible. But I'd like to know if, in a blind taste test, someone could tell whether the wine had been seale with cork or a screw-top.

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Has anyone actually done a taste test comparing wines with cork to wines with screw-tops? I guess it could be difficult because I assume the same wine doesn't come with both types of closures, so an accurate comparison isn't possible. But I'd like to know if, in a blind taste test, someone could tell whether the wine had been seale with cork or a screw-top.

The problem with even creating a comparison is that screw caps haven't been around long enough to make the comparison legit. The biggest argument AGAINST screw caps that I have been hearing is a matter of longevity. A really good wine needs to be aged and there are no really good wines being made with screw caps that have gone the test of time.

MAYBE some premiere cru bottled their wines in screw caps back in the late '80s or early '90s (although I doubt it). We would need to taste these wines after 15 or 20 years of aging to see if the screw cap assisted in the wines aging or detracted from it.

There's the rub -- who wants to wait 20 years to see if the screw caps work that way???

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A really good wine needs to be aged and there are no really good wines being made with screw caps that have gone the test of time.

"A really good wine" is really subjective. I think it's more accurate to say a wine made for ageing.

Just got this e-mail from a newsletter...

TWIST OF IRONY

I was packing a suitcase last week to head to the Rhone

Rangers event in Seattle and found a corkscrew handed out

during Taste Washington in April. The corkscrew is from

Hogue Cellars, which announced earlier this month that it is

switching 70 percent of its production to screwcaps.

:laugh:

Drink!

I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. --John Mortimera

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A really good wine needs to be aged and there are no really good wines being made with screw caps that have gone the test of time.

"A really good wine" is really subjective. I think it's more accurate to say a wine made for aging.

Completely agree.

I should amend that there are some really good wines that are meant to be drunk young and have no age on them whatsoever. It is these young wines that are probably a better bet for the screwcap market.

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Has anyone actually done a taste test comparing wines with cork to wines with screw-tops? I guess it could be difficult because I assume the same wine doesn't come with both types of closures, so an accurate comparison isn't possible. But I'd like to know if, in a blind taste test, someone could tell whether the wine had been seale with cork or a screw-top.

There is such a long-tailed study going on right now in Australia (please withhold comments about the ageability of some Aussie wines -- at least they're doing the study). But the point being made about needing real time to come up with real results is a valid one. And then, the study probably has to be done for wines from different regions. I know the Bordelaise will say "but we're different" when it comes leveraging the results from an Oz study to wines from Bordeaux.

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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The very idea of screw caps offends me.

They do not make that fuldilling cheek-popping sound.

They contribute to the "sharp steel litter" problem that the beer industry came under fire for.

They do not make attractive bird houses, trivets, and bulletin boards.

Personally, I like the square boxes with repaceable pop-tops that broth and tomatoes come in. Instant open, instant close. No lost tops or corks. Nothing to step on in the middle of the night. Best of all, you could stack your wine containers on their side, or upright, with no wasted air space in between!

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Mary Baker

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