Q Is a wine sealed with a screw cap inferior to a wine sealed with a cork?
A It depends entirely on the wine.
Screw caps have been around since the 1950s, when they were used primarily to seal cheap “jug wines.” But during the 1980s, wineries in Australia and New Zealand began to use them for almost all of their wines. As those bottlings made their way to the United States and met with little resistance in the marketplace, American vintners began to follow suit.
The main advantage of a screw cap is that it prevents wines from being “corked” and ruined — the No. 1 problem associated with cork-sealed bottles. But when a quality cork is used and a bottle is sealed properly, that problem is virtually eliminated. Thus, it still comes down to a matter of preference among wineries and vintners.
Today, many wineries are using screw caps to seal their white wines, as well as their reds that are meant to be consumed while young. The screw caps keep oxygen out of the bottle and keep the wine inside fresh and vibrant.
For bigger, richer wines that may need some time in the bottle to age and evolve, a cork seal is still preferred by most. A cork allows just a little bit of oxygen into the bottle, which helps to smooth out the tannins, providing for a more velvety mouthfeel.
So, ultimately, it all boils down to the quality of the wine. Whether a bottle is sealed with a screw cap or a cork makes no difference in assessing its quality.
P.S.: This is a topic that comes up quite often, and that we’ve addressed in the past here on Vinesse Today. The dominant screw cap in the marketplace is the Stelvin capsule, and you can read more about it here.