I can remember when I first saw a screw top wine bottle. My initial thoughts were, “What the hell is that?” and “How cheap!” This is going back some years…it didn’t take long for the screw top wine bottle to catch on and for me to fall in love with its convenience.
Corks and wine, they just go together. It’s like bread and butter or for a better pairing, wine and cheese. The good old trusty cork was once just part and parcel of a bottle of wine, no matter whether it was a top of the range wine or not.
In a way I’m thankful that corks are a thing of the past thanks to most wineries around the world switching to the screw top bottle. No matter how hard I tried, I never really mastered corking a bottle of wine properly, and don’t even get me started on the corkscrews without handles – just imagine me having a Bridget Jones’ moment with said bottle of wine between the legs and bum in air – oh, what my neighbors must have thought. At least I was at university then, and I could just blame it on my ‘uni day antics!’
There are still many people, mainly the notorious wine snobs, who’d happily argue that corks in wine bottles are better than screw tops, but I’m about to do a bit of wine myth busting!
There’s really no difference in the quality of wine, and to be quite honest with you, I can’t be doing with a five-minute fight with the corkscrew nor can I be doing with the microscopic pieces of cork floating in my wine due to my poor wine corking skills.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Corks in Wine
Let’s roll back to Modern Europe in the 1400’s; this was the advent of the cork in wine. Glass wine bottles were becoming more popular, and as a result winemakers had to find a malleable natural product to keep the wine inside.
The environmentally friendly people would surely say cork wine bottles are better. They are a natural renewable resource after all. Historians would also probably favor the trusty cork; it’s just historically preferred, however, I would also consider myself to be a bit of a history geek and I’m still all for the screw top wine bottle – does it really matter that it dates back to Chaucer’s time? Apparently, corks also aid long-term aging in wine…
Eco-friendly greenies aside, corks are expensive, with some wine producers claiming they’re up to 2-3 times more expensive than the screw top cap. And due to the continuous climb in cork costs, the wine gets dearer, which is just one reason alone to bow down to the screw top wine bottle (in my opinion). Then there’s cork taint in wine. 1-3% of all wine is affected, and if you’ve ever had the displeasure of taking a sip (or a swig) of off wine, you’ll know what I’m talking about – with a screw top wine bottle, there’s never an issue with this.
Cork also breathes, which is why it was deemed the best stoppage system for wine bottles – but it breathes variably, meaning, the wine, will never be consistent – in other words, you could take two identical bottles of your favorite Cabernet Sauvignon from the same vintage and experience different tastes and aromas.
Screw Top Wine Bottles – Not that New
Screw tops are ‘new’ compared to corks, yes, but they’ve been kicking about from way before I was born (they date back to 1964), so I personally don’t consider them to be that much of a novelty. Most New World wines, more specifically the wines from Down Under, boast a screw top lid.
They became more prolific in the 80’s. Cork production was winding down, and to be blunt, the tainted wine from substandard corks pissed off winemakers wine drinkers alike.
The argument continues. Are screw top wine bottles better than corked wine bottles?
In my opinion yes!
Easy to open, check. No grotty floating cork bits in wine, check. No rank tasting wine due to cork taint, check. No scaring the neighbors with half ass up in the air trying to open wine, check…seriously, it’s a win-win situation for wine lovers like me and old Eric living next door!
But we do face another problem…
Wine is no longer reserved for celebrations and occasions. We drink it every day (well most of us do). Glass is also facing a backlash. Since wine exports from around the world are a daily occurrence and on the increase, manufacturers and governments alike are looking to reduce wines’ carbon’s footprint, and being a heavy material, glass too could become a thing of the past.
Forget about the screw tops on wine bottles, what about the future of wine packaging in general? I’m no wine snob, but I can’t get my head around wine in a can. Could it be, that I will soon be drinking my favorite Pinot Noir from a can?