Let’s kick off the new week by answering a question sent in by one of our blog followers. It addresses a topic that’s generating lots of discussion among both casual and serious wine drinkers.
QUESTION: I’m seeing more and more bottles that are sealed with screw caps instead of corks. Why is this?
ANSWER: Technology has advanced to the point that screw caps provide a bottle seal that’s even more dependable than traditional corks, which can become brittle and leak, thus impacting the quality of the wine.
Corks also can be tainted by TCA (shorthand for 2,4,6-trichloroanisole), a chemical with an unpleasant odor and even less pleasant flavor produced by microbes found in cork bark. “Mildewy” is the most common word uttered when TCA is encountered.
Many people—the French, in particular—prefer the tradition and the “pop” sound associated with corks. Many winemakers—particularly those in New Zealand and Australia, where screw caps now are the wine bottle seal of choice—are more concerned with consumers experiencing wine exactly as it tasted when it was bottled.
In the never-ending struggle between tradition and modernity, modernity almost always wins out. Industry insiders tell us to expect even more wines sealed with screw caps in the future.