You’re at a dinner party and it’s time to open a new bottle of wine. There are a range of wine bottles available on the bar, a few with corks and a few with a screw-cap. Which do you choose? We’re all guilty of assuming that the screw-capped bottle is of a lower quality than the corked bottle, but is that true? Is that a rule or is it just a common misconception?
While cork is more expensive, and thus often utilized by higher-end wineries, or at least wineries with more money to throw around, a screw-cap does not guarantee a wine is of lower-quality. In fact, over the years many makers of high-quality wine have determined corks to be an unnecessary expense and, thus, there are many very nice wines out there that happen to have a twist-off cap.
Beyond the expense, there is a strong case for screw-caps being the superior choice in terms of quality control.
Cork is porous and, as a natural resource, is inconsistent. A quality cork allows just a teensy amount of air to interact with the wine. This is called controlled oxygenation and is perfectly fine, in fact, it makes corked bottles better suited for ageworthy wines. But, since every cork is slightly different, a cork can just as easily let too much air in the bottle, affecting the quality of the wine.
Meanwhile, aluminum isn’t porous, protecting wine from oxygen. And caps are manufactured to consistently seal tight and be easily resealed, allowing a bottle with a screw cap to live longer on the shelf before and after opening.
The value screw caps offer winemakers and drinkers is very similar to the value stainless steel wine drums offer: versatility and control. The product in the bottle or barrel remains truer to the day it was made and to the intent of the winemaker.
So next time the host invites you to “go ahead and open another bottle”, don’t discount the screw-capped wines. At the very least, it will be easy to re-seal if you don’t like it.