Are Screw Cap Wine Bottles Sensible or Not?
by Eleanor & Ray Heald
Reader Comments... [11]

H Sutherland, MD, wine drinker
32550, FL
Corked wine is a complete loss to me because I usually drink a red wine 3-4 years after buying it. Thus, I do not and cannot prove that a wine store sold it to me. I would think that very few wine lovers could tell the difference between cork and screw cap.

George Vesel, Broker
veselbev, Kansas City area
Screw Cap

Antoine Songy, President
Robert Kacher Selections, Washington DC
Great article, thanks. We are pushing for our suppliers to use screw caps for wines to be drunk young. However, there is a terrible shortage of glass in Europe at this stage. We also prefer the synthetic alternative which prevents cork tainted wines. With education and time consumers will recognize the validity of the choice we made. Thanks for your contribution and a bientot.
~ Antoine

Jim Peck, Sr Research Scientist
G3 Enterprises, Modesto, CA
One of my pet peeves is the discussion of "screw caps" as if all are identical. Assuming good capping parameters, the sealing and oxygen diffusion characteristic of a screw cap are controlled by the cap liner, of which there are different manufacturers and different material compositions. It will educate your readers more if they are aware of whether you are referring to a screw cap with tin foil, aluminum foil, or saranex liners.

Regards, Jim

wineboy 8
Napa, CA
There are alternatives that are not considered in the article. One producer in Spain makes a cork cleaned with supercritical C02 that is TCA-free and has controlled permeability that winemakers seek. This is a good alternative for many wineries sick of random TCA issues with cork, the mechanical problems associated with cork, and cork’s inability to be consistent in sealing. This closure is called DIAM. I would think someone should research this new alternative and write about it.

left coast
Have you heard the latest? The Ozone Greenies want to keep the cork which comes from cork oak trees. They feel the trees will be replaced with development and contribute to "Global Warming" if the corks are done away with. The screw caps are supposedly not recyclable.

Nathan Carlson, Winemaker
Tolosa Estate / Courtside, San Luis Obispo, CA
We've done a lot of experimenting with closures as well. There is a great overview of the subtlety involved in selecting a closure in our blog: a discussion of the DIAM cork, which has proved to be a good solution to TCA in wines that are not appropriate for Stelvin closures.

Thanks, Jason, this is a quality discussion of the options!

Fernando Rios, International Sales Director
Juvenal SA, Portugal
I can agree with some things, but with other ones not.

-- First: everybody knows that cork stoppers are not the only the reason for TCA in the wine.

-- Second: The percentage indicated in the article (between 3 and 10 % of wines are tainted due to cork stoppers) -- everybody knows that this also is not true. These are the figures, maybe, from 10-15 years ago!!!

If screw caps and synthetics are so good why don’t 100% of wineries use these closures?

Tom, Winegrower
Magito & Co., Sebastopol, CA
So now bottle enclosures wag the winegrowers’ wines? What are you saying about who is in charge of the choices here? Every winegrower needs to fully understand their choices in every winegrowing step. Make and match your wines for the enclosure you choose. The tail does not wag the dog.

Thomas Houseman, Winemaker
Anne Amie Vineyards, Carlton, OR
I would like to chime in about something a cork supplier had the gall sneak into my office and leave on my desk. It was a flier about how screwcap as a closure choice lead to strip mining of the planet – inferring that cork closures were the "natural" choice". In their haste to damn the competition they have forgotten that almost all cork-closed wines have foil capsules covering them.

I think the competition from screwcaps has finally given the cork industry a reason to clean up their act and address a problem that had been ignored for decades.

Lastly, I agree that the closure must match the wine. I will be bottling our 2007 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir equally in both cork and screwcap. We will follow not only the evolution of the wine, but also the perception of the wine by consumers.

Craig Pinhey, Wine Writer/Sommelier
Freelancer, New Brunswick, Canada
I think the sulphur issue needs to be a bigger part of this discussion. I have frequent problems - far too frequent - with screwcapped wines. When I'm doing tastings I find many of them have matchstick-like sulphury noses, that do not go away quickly enough for use in these kind of events. They are temporarily shut down, and in effect spoiled for the purpose of the event.

Also, when I judged the International Value Wine Awards last month, I found many of the wines had a sulphury nose, both reds and whites. I bet these were screwcapped!

I know that some of these wines will benefit from decanting or a shaking in the glass followed by a waiting period, but this is a pain to someone like me who does regular tastings for my job.

Young fresh white wines with fruity, floral notes are the worst ones, because the sulphury character hides all the joys of the wine. Of course these are the wine styles that most companies are screwcapping.

Is the problem that many producers are still using too much sulphur in screwcapped wines? It isn't just new producers either. I've also had it with Chateau Bonnet, and several New Zealand and South African Sauv Blancs.