Corks

Corks

So the other day I wanted to pick up a bottle of wine to have with my salmon. I settled on a French Sauvignon Blanc from the Rothschild vineyard. Now this wasn’t a horrendously expensive but it wasn’t grape juice either. Let’s just say it was a quality bottle of wine. I grabbed the bottle paid for it and left the store. 

I start to prepare my salmon and of course I wanted to pour myself a glass of my chosen libation. I grab my favorite corkscrew and was stopped dead in my tracks. It has a screw top! Now I’m not a wine snob but it has always been drilled into my head that all good bottles of wine have a cork. If the wine you are drinking has a screw top, it can’t be that good. So rather than being upset about the audacity of the vineyard to sell me a bottle of wine, which I thought was premium, with a crew top, I decided to do some research. 

Corks have been used to seal wine bottles for several hundred years. Natural corks, which are primarily made in Portugal, have sealed the most expensive wines ever sold. Natural cork, however, can acquire what is called ‘cork taint’. This taint can change the wine’s wonderful bouquet to a smell that resembles a well used gym sock. This is caused by a complex chemical (TCA) that comes from reactions within corks that involves natural molds and the chlorine bleach used in cork manufacture. Ok enough with the chemistry lesson. 

For the last 10-15 years, many wine makers have opted for a synthetic cork to seal their product. It seals well, looks the same and it pops like an original cork. It eliminated the risk of ‘cork taint’ but they do have their down side. They are sometimes more difficult to open than natural cork and are not biodegradable. They are made of plastics so they are recyclable. Synthetic corks also allow more air into a wine bottle which speeds oxidation that spoils the wine. 

Enter the screw top. Air tight seal, no tools required, easy to use and easily resealable. Sounds great doesn’t it. Well it is. I will miss the pomp and show of uncorking a bottle of wine. The recognizable pop which is followed by the sound of that wonderful liquid heaven hitting a crystal glass. The opportunity to be the showman and demonstrate how adept you are at easily opening a corked bottle without crumbling the cork or leaving any part of it behind.

It’s a traditional style. One that has been with us for over 250 years. Well, all things change. We must change with it. In discussing this matter with a friend, he commented, “Screw top is good enough for a $300 bottle of scotch, shouldn’t it be good enough for a $25 bottle of wine?”. I had no come back. 

Raise a glass for me and let me know what you think. 



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