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Screw Top or Cork

Posted on February 13 2017

We regular wine drinkers will be used to seeing a few different ways of sealing the bottle.

Cork is the traditional method and is often seen as the best. Most producers of premium wines favour it, as they want to allow for a little gentle ageing in the bottle. Cork allows a tiny amount of oxygen to pass into the bottle, which allows a slow oxidation of the wine, helping it to mature in the bottle. Many wines, such as quality Bordeaux and the best German Rieslings can mature in the bottle for years, as long as they are kept lying down in a cool, dark place, with the correct temperature and humidity level.

However, there have been issues with cork, one of them being that sometimes they made the wine go off (people would say that the wine is corked)! This is partly due to cork failure, whereby oxygen enters the bottle more quickly than desired and oxidises the wine, or the cork itself could contain a substance called Trichloaranisole (TCA) which makes the wine smell of musty, damp cardboard.

Fortunately, cork producers have made great efforts to rid corks for wine of TCA, and better wine storage means that it is much less likely that you will get a ‘corked’ wine now.

Synthetic (plastic) corks are also frequently seen, but only for wines which are to be consumed young, they are not good for wines which are going to be kept for a long time, as they deteriorate over time, allowing oxygen to enter the wine too quickly, thus spoiling it.

Finally, the other great wine bottle closure is the screwcap. This is favoured by many wine producers, as they can seal the bottle against oxygen, and help preserve the fruity nature of the wine, so great for wines meant to be consumed within a few years of production. They are generally thought to be unsuitable for bottle ageing, although there are some screwcaps which are designed to allow a small controlled amount of oxygen to pass through them.

Whether cork, synthetic or screwcap, each has its merit. The most important thing is that they are used appropriately for the wine inside the bottle.

So get uncorking or unscrewing and enjoy your wine!

Cheers

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