Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Looking for Closure: Screwcaps vs. Corks


Rosie
 Share

Recommended Posts

There seem to be a lot of strong feelings on this subject. Certainly the screw top is not the most aesthetically pleasing closure yet it is quite efficient. Also from several wineries I've seen the plastic type of cork. I don't know what the material is exactly nor if it can react to the wine but this does seem to be a good candidate for appearance sake and keeping the feeling of opening a nice bottle of wine intact.

Corks have seemed to work pretty well with a low failure rate for an awful long time so while there is the occasional corked wine, it does seem to be tried and true. Where is the balance between the different types of closures and on what wines should they be used?

I know the knew Sauvignon Republic Sauvignon Blanc uses the twist top. (I know there is a more pc name for it.) John Ash, one of the people behind Sauvignon Republic feels strongly it is the only way to go. He may be correct. Certainly on some of the whites it seems to work. They are easier to reseal at least.

This is an interesting topic though and one that is going to keep coming up in the future.

Charles a food and wine addict - "Just as magic can be black or white, so can addictions be good, bad or neither. As long as a habit enslaves it makes the grade, it need not be sinful as well." - Victor Mollo

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Stelvin closures (aka screw caps) are a BIG part of our wine consumtion future. Someone asked about comparisons. Last year in The Clare, I tasted Reisling that had been under screw cap for twelve years.....WONDERFUL!!!!!

Ask Randall Graham why he has changed his ENTIRE production to Stelvin! That "little" winery produces about 300,000 cases /year. Yes, most of those wines are expected to be consumed within two years , but when someone of the stature of BONNY DUNE makes that much of a change there are reasons.

Just last night we trashed three bottles of VERY highpriced whites, and really did not drink an '83 Ch. Margaux because it was corked, kept airing it to see if the taint would blow off to no avail.

Take it from an OLD, longtime wine guy the "screw caps" are here to stay. My guess is that some of the more highly reputed vintners will experiment, but stay with cork. Then (wish I could recall who) there is the Napa winery which bottled half of the production in traditional cork and half on screwcap.

To sum up all of this verbiaage, for good "everyday" don't even be concerned, For the "Collectors", taste, taste and taste again and over the next ten/twenty years you'll decide.

It IS the furture.

Ted Task

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just happend to pop in here. I work as the Associate Winemaker at Fenn Valley Vineyards, near Fennville, MI. We have made quite a few wines in the past year taking Gold and Double Gold at International competition, so I speak about wine, as in Cabernet Franc, Pinto Grigio, Gewurztraminer, which we make and would not be confused with other Hybrid-French wines like Seyval. We have devoted a lot of study into this matter and are currently seeking bids on ROPP machinery. St. Julian, a nearby winery has made the move and is a Michigan winery of some 1.3 million cases / year. Hogue Cellars in Washington HAS done some "longer" term studies on screw cap closures as compared to cork, and they are favorable to screw cap.

TCA, or cork taint, can come from wines within the winery during processing especially is there is considerable useage of chlorine for disinfecting; such as floors, drains, and particularly any "wood" that may be present. No, they don't use it on barrels. There are of course other areas of introduction. The main thing is getting away from chlorine bleaches, better sanitation, and buying corks from reliable sources. They all seem like reliable sources, and for the most part, they are, but it's still an issue with the wine industry.

There are screw caps that are designed to allow breating, or exchange of oxygen, to the same degree as corks available for the industry as well. Wines made for fruit forward freshness, and to be drunk young, probably would't want the closure to "breathe". Most of the closures are the tighter air design and work perfectly for those "young" wines.

Anyway, just wanted to add a 2-cents worth. :)

btw.... The avitar settings are not working now?

Vernon

Associate Winemaker Fenn Valley Vineyards

jenefarm@direcway.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Welcome, Frost. Your comments on oxygen dovetail with an interesting article in this month's Practical Winery & Vineyard, by Tyson Stelzer, author of Screwed for good? The case for screwcaps on red wines.

The gist of the article is that a number of studies performed since the 1960s indicate that while screwcaps completely eliminate the possibility of cork taint from TCA, the barrier to oxygen could also be extremely beneficial, resulting in wines with incredible youthfulness and longevity. Stelzer quotes a number of French and Australian producers who support the use of screwcaps, although there are still detractors who feel the studies performed to date are incomplete.

The ongoing argument seems to be whether oxygen ingress is needed for the proper development of wine. Several studies have been done and confirmed that show wine will develop, slightly, without additional air. In non-aerobic aging conditions, the tannins and acids drop out, but fruit character remains unchanged. High quality corks effectively eliminate most and perhaps all additional air, so a screwcap is essentially the same as a high quality cork, without the risk of TCA. Rieslings have done very well with Stelvin closures, but many winemakers still claim that for reds, especially, reductive changes are not enough.

Trevor Mast produces outstanding Shiraz in Australia's Central Victoria region.  His Mount Langi Ghiran vineyards produce very long-lived examples of the style—but he will not bottle them under screwcaps.  "Years back I bottled some reds under Stelvin," Mast recalls.  "I found one a few years ago and it had separated—clear like water on the top and orange underneath."  He speculates, "The conditions are just too reductive (lacking in oxygen) for the wine to develop."
Peter Gago, Penfolds' chief winemaker adds:  "Oxygen probably is necessary for bottle development.  Aging is not just a few simple reactions.  It's a lot more complex than that, and some reactions need oxygen."

However, Peter Wall, past director of Yalumba, says "True wine scientists know that bottle development is a reductive, not an oxidative process. It's about time the truth was told." At the same time, proponents of the no-oxygen-necessary camp are also talking about adding micro-oxygenation during bottling, to ensure that the wines are bottled with sufficient oxygen to support aerobic change.

"Screwcaps are the best thing for aromatic whites, but I'd hate to see them on red," emphasizes Ross Brown, chief executive officer of Victoria-based producer Brown Brothers.  "We've tried using them for years, and the wines just don't seem to develop.  You want a good red to improve."  An ironic comment, coming from the son of one of those so positive about the early 1970s screwcap trials.

_____________________

Mary Baker

Solid Communications

Find me on Facebook

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 8 months later...

The Department of Food Science and Technology, Virginia Tech has just released results from their ongoing research. The bar charts demonstrate the measurable volatile aromas and esters in the headspace of the bottle. Evaluation preferences performed by a group of 60 people are written below each chart.

_____________________

Mary Baker

Solid Communications

Find me on Facebook

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

I have learned to like Australian Screw Cap wine, and some fom New Zealand, mostly white, and mostly Riesling.

But will it age, and get that petrol scent?

Are these caps any good for red wines worthy of aging?

Is there anything in the neck other than compressed air?

What can we expect, over time?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had long conversations with my sommelier in culinary school about this issue. Young wines really do benefit from it, as it does a much better job of protecting the wine. Something like 10-20% of all wine sold is actually corked (as in bad), but the vast majority of it still gets drunk, since most consumers do not know how to recognize a corked wine.

As for aging, you hear a lot of differing opinions. Personally, I think the jury's still out.

Amy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I love the Stelvin closure, it ensures freshness and eliminates almost any chance of oxidation.

We don't have the long term data on aging, and there is an ongoing argument on the value of oxygen in the aging process.

As to the "romance" of the cork - last month I opened a bottle of 1981 Chateau Margaux for a guest and it was corked, where's the "romance" in that ?

''Wine is a beverage to enjoy with your meal, with good conversation, if it's too expensive all you talk about is the wine.'' Bill Bowers - The Captain's Tavern, Miami

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We get wines pretty regularly from Bonny Doon.

Irrespective of aging issues, I have found you do need to be a bit more careful when handling screwcap bottles by the neck than corked bottles. On at least one occasion, in the course of regular handling, I jarred the closure enough to barely break the seal between the mouth of the bottle and the closure. I didn't notice until the next time I looked at my stored bottles. Fortunately, it was just a day or so later, so I just refridgerated it and drank it up.

Erik

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi there,

I truly think that Stelvin is the future, even if it is a bit "different" when you open a bottle at the table. I'm a sommelier in a Pan asian restaurant with more new world wines than french, spanish or italian. In a wine show, a wine supplier told me, a 1963 red burgundy were bottle with screw top (incredible at that time stelvin existed) and a natural cork. They open both last year, they saw that the wine with stelvin, still conserved minimun standars of frutiness, acidity, and balance. The one with natural cork was dead long time ago. Micro-oxigenation was balance before bottle in with stelvin. Better evolution. Better conservation, no recorking a old bottle.

Artificial corks is something different. I talked with a person who analize the corks in a Spanish winery. They still thinking it adds something to de wine, not very good in a long term evolution in bottle.

VIVA stelvin! :raz:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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!

I attended our free local jazz festival last weekend (actually a regional event with some big names) and the wine tent was offering product in the very boxes that you describe. Each box held about as much as a split but was selling for less than the price of two "glasses" (all serving done in plastic). With wine at $4 per "glass" and $7 for the box it was a no-brainer (yes it was cheap wine). The boxes appeared to be outselling glasses at a 2 to 1 ratio.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi there,

I truly think that Stelvin is the future, even if it is a bit "different" when you open a bottle at the table. I'm a sommelier in a Pan asian restaurant with more new world wines than french, spanish or italian. In a wine show, a wine supplier told me, a 1963 red burgundy were bottle with screw top (incredible at that time stelvin existed) and a natural cork. They open both last year, they saw that the wine with stelvin, still conserved minimun standars of frutiness, acidity, and balance. The one with natural cork was dead long time ago. Micro-oxigenation was balance before bottle in with stelvin. Better evolution. Better conservation, no recorking a old bottle.

Artificial corks is something different. I talked with a person who analize the corks in a Spanish winery. They still thinking it adds something to de wine, not very good in a long term evolution in bottle.

VIVA stelvin! :raz:

1963 was a bad year all over Europe, except for vintage Port. At that time no Burgundian would use anything other than cork; even now they are very conservative about changing tradition. I would expect the '63 to be dead, but if the screw-capped version was alive and well, you would have to suspect the bottling and label. From your post, it appears that you didn't actually see the bottles, but depended on a report from a trade rep., who may have had a sales motive in mind.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...
There's an interesting article on Sokol Blosser's weblog, written by winemaker Russ Rosner:

Why We Still Use Natural Cork at Sokol Blosser Winery

(about halfway down the blog page).

Oh, great. They get to feel good about being environmentally friendly. We get to absorb the cost of their defective wines.

I'd be interested in seeing a breakdown of the amount of energy required to produce a screwcap or a glass-aluminum stopper (both of which can be made from recycled aluminum, btw, and both of which can in turn be recycled) versus that required to harvest, manufacture, treat and transport a cork*. Would be surprised if the difference was huge. And I bet both figures are virtually insignificant compared with the energy consumed in produciing, bottling, storing and transporting a bottle of wine.

*edit: And don't forget to include the cost of the capsule.

Edited by carswell (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

cork vs stelvin vs procork

recently, here in australia, a new way to seal bottles has been researched and developed by an local company.

the Procork has a synthetic top and bottom, and ensures that the working effectiveness of their corks is the same as the top 20% of premium grade traditional corks.

in an article i read recently in our local paper, they claim that it performs better than the stelvin, while almost 100% removing the possibility of cork taint.

Mt Avoca wines is the first winery to adopt the procork commercially.

article by Avoca proprietor and winemaker:

http://www.grapeandwine.com.au/2003/oct/06.htm

ProCork technology uses natural cork and applies a membrane to either end. This membrane prevents TCA and other taint compounds from entering the wine, while improving the oxygen permeability of the cork to give a very consistent seal. The membrane will allow some oxygen to pass through - at about the same rate as a perfect ref 1 cork. Using ProCork is like having a second ref 1 cork in the bottle from the point of view of longterm cellaring and reduces the risk of random oxidation to almost zero. In simple terms it is like having every cork behave like the best 20% of wine corks.

Cork is the only option for winemakers who want to maintain a high-quality image and to maintain the important market advantages of cork. Cork is not only a stopper that has a high degree of tradition and romance, but also a proven track record over the last 400 years for long-term storage of the world’s best wines. Unfortunately there is an unacceptable failure rate with cork, and when cork taint and random oxidation are considered together, the failure rate is very high. This failure rate increases the longer wines are cellared. The obvious conclusion is that a larger number of expensive wines are the victims of this problem more so than wines that are consumed early.

it'll be interesting to see how this pans out..

procork homepage:

http://www.procork.com.au/home/

Edited by Tae.Lee (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

As to the "romance" of the cork - last month I opened a bottle of 1981 Chateau Margaux for a guest and it was corked, where's the "romance" in that ?

How about the "romance" of carrying a newly-released bottle of 1998 Pol Roger (Blanc de) Chardonnay from France to the UK in anticipation of our first wedding anniversary.....and opening it on that said day only to find it horrendously corked? :angry:

So we blew most of our anniversary wine budget on a wine that couldn't even be drunk......gosh, isn't cork just *fabulous*!!?!?!

We settled for some White Foil but it WASN'T the same :sad:

<a href='http://www.longfengwines.com' target='_blank'>Wine Tasting in the Big Beige of Beijing</a>

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had a bottle of Henri Bardouin Pastis the other day that was corked. Back it went for a new one.

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Want to see me get slapped around? Beat over the head? Told that we (Dan and I) have our heads in the sand for still using corks? And maybe I have a girlfriend? :shock:

Whew. And that was just the eRobertParker thread on closures. The internet can be a violent place. (Although the girlfriend comment was tongue-in-cheek. I mean . . . aaaaaaaarg! Never mind.)

My point is, there are apparently some proponents of screwcap technology who simply do not want to consider that, while showing more consistency than corks, it may still have faults.

I am still reading my way through some of the latest findings, published this month in Wine Business Monthly. While there is much good news on all the closure fronts: improved screwcap technology, new methods for cleaning corks, improvements in synthetics, there were also some negative discoveries discussed during the ASEV "Science of Closures" seminar. This information is only avilable in the print publication and not at the WBM website, so I will try to quote as briefly as possible.

(Note to moderators: quoted material is much less than 10% of the articles.)

Most speakers cited the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) long term closure study. They found that in general, "the results from the synthetic [closures] were more reproducible than the corks."

However:

quote:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

from "Science of Closures, Wine Business Monthly, September 2005

The wine's particular phenolic composition plays a major role in the wine's ability to absorb oxygen. . .

Ella Robinson noted one of the more interesting findings of the AWRI study: the development of "reduced" aromas in the bottle in white wines stored under the most "air-tight" closures (tin-lined screw caps, synthetics and some technical closures) after several years (from 24 to 63 months in the AWRI Study).

Since "reduced" aromas like "struck flint" and "rubber" tend to be associated with thiol compounds, it is likely that the lack of quinon formation contributes to the development of these reductive odors.

Interestingly, Robinson noted that "neither the change in fill height nor extra SO2 seemed to influence the intensity of the "struck flint" character.

Consequently, Robinson argued that the reductive aromas that develop in some wines under closures that have very low oxygen transmission rates arise because "not enough oxygen may be introduced to oxidize the thiols that have slowly formed, and they may end up at a level above the sensory threshold."

------------------------------

From "Wine Intelligence Survey," Wine Business Monthly, September 2005

Attitudes to closures among U.S. consumers are evolving but perhaps not as rapidly as the wine industry would expect. Natural cork remains unquestionably the industry standard . .

[Two surveys, in 2004 and 2005, show that acceptance of screwcaps has risen from 47% to 57%. Acceptance of natural cork dropped from 99% to 96%.)

---------------------------------

According to another article, "screwcaps still represent less than 5 percent of the closure market."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Granted, there are a lot of things that go wrong with a wine under cork. Screwcaps are more consistent. But there are still problems that are just beginning to be identified, and solutions sought. So, for now, being classic car type of people, we will wait to see how the new vehicle performs after a few more road tests.

Do you have a preference for corks or screwcaps? Do you accept both? And on what types of wine?

Does a winery's choice of closure affect your perception of the producer? If a winery still uses corks would you assume that they do not care about their product or their customers?

_____________________

Mary Baker

Solid Communications

Find me on Facebook

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I believe that this debate is much ado about....a little!

Most wine is meant to be drunk on release or within a three to five year window.

A precious, relatively tiny amount is vinified to "age" for an extended period in bottle.

The question really involves looking at the benefits of cork vs the benefits of some (any) other means of sealing a bottle of wine and weighing these benefits against any downside as a long term proposition.

As I see it we have identified the downside of corks. And it is a serious downside. We are still struggling with the benefits.

Looking at the long term effects of screw caps vs corks will take--time.

Until then--I would prefer most wines (those for short term storage-- use screw caps.

I still prefer corks in my bottles of first growth Bordeaux--though the thought of even one bottle of old Margaux--resting/lurking "tainted" behind a yet to be pulled cork, in my cellar--raises the little hairs on the back of my neck.

As Rebel Rose points out this is in the hands of the scientists--I wish they would hurry up and "discover" something!.

Edited by JohnL (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

And the latest new offering in poptop closures--the ZORK!

From what is clearly a press release:

ZORK manufactures soft re-sealable wine closures that replicate the performance of a screw cap, but pop like a cork, all without the need for a corkscrew.

We're still ambivalent about the use of these new plastique closures. In some of the wines we've tried with polymer tops, the wines pick up a rubbery character, or as the WBM article quoted earlier, a "struck flint" character . . .

_____________________

Mary Baker

Solid Communications

Find me on Facebook

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Recently I had my first experience with a glass closure. It was in a 2004 Zweigelt from Heinrich in Austria. I didn't actually know what the closure was and had a hard time figuring out how to get it open. But after playing with it a bit, I managed to pull and twist it out of the bottle. I have to say that in my experience this is the most elegent of the non-cork closures I have seen. I'd be interested to hear other opinions.

I did a little gooling and found out that this closure is called a vino-lok . It's made of glass, with an o-ring seal of elvax, which is the same stuff you see under bottle caps.

Here are some pictures of the vino-lok:

First, the profile, where you can see the extent of the seal. It goes down 3-4mm into the bottle and has a rim that covers the lip of the bottle.

gallery_1327_1997_1634.jpg

Here are a couple of more angles on it. The wine stain on the seal probably has more to do with me playing with the stopper and putting it back in the half-drunk bottle a few times than any leakage during storage.

gallery_1327_1997_2375.jpg

gallery_1327_1997_12813.jpg

Finally, here it is back in the bottle. After the wine was gone I tested resealing the bottle full of water and turning it upside-down. There was no leakage.

gallery_1327_1997_23736.jpg

This zweigelt is meant to be consumed young, like a beaujolais, and as such it was quite nice, bold and fruity. I have no idea how this kind of closure would hold up under long term aging, but in the short term it seems to have done a marvelous job.

One thing I wonder about this and other non-cork closures is whether bottles that use them need to be stored horizontally. If the closure is inert or nearly so, it might not need to be kept wet like cork. On the other hand, storing bottles vertically would result in a different amount of surface area of wine in contact with the air in the bottle. Might this matter?

Edited by vengroff (log)

Chief Scientist / Amateur Cook

MadVal, Seattle, WA

Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

In the latest newsletter from Amorim, they offer a synopsis of a recently completed Bordeaux study on oxygen transmission rates:

The picture that has emerged puts natural cork into an intermediate position in terms of oxygen transmission rates. The natural corks allowed between 0.1 and 2.7 microlitres a day during the period from 12 months to 36 months. In comparison, over the same period, the synthetic stoppers let in much more oxygen while screwcaps let in noticeably less.

Research by the Australian Wine Research Institute has suggested that reduced or 'rubbery' aromas can develop in wine sealed under screwcap as a result of the closure's low OTR. The same researchers found that wines under synthetic stoppers tend to lose fruit attributes and develop oxidised or 'wet wool' aromas.

Cork, it seems, appears to allow some, but not too much, oxygen into the wine, preserving fruit intensity and minimising the tendency for reduced characters.

Wine experts and consumers already have a layman's appreciation of how a wine develops under cork over a period of years. But the scientific basis for this process is not well described. For example, it is not clear how oxygen actually enters a cork-sealed bottle.

Amorim is funding research to gain a better understanding of oxygen entry — for example, to determine whether oxygen diffuses through the cork from the atmosphere or comes from within the cork itself.

'Impact of storage position on oxygen ingress through different closures into wine bottles,' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 54(18), 6741-6746, 2006.

_____________________

Mary Baker

Solid Communications

Find me on Facebook

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...