Crackle or Pop? When Opening a Bottle, Either Sound Works

multi bottles black - Stock ImageOne more FAQ to close out the week…

QUESTION: I recently received a bottle of wine from a friend that has a screw top. I thought all good wines came with corks. Is my friend trying to tell me something?

ANSWER: Well, I can’t speak for your friend, but I can absolutely speak to the question of how that bottle of wine was sealed.

Screw caps, as they’re known in the wine industry, make an absolutely ideal closure for wine bottles. The main task of a closure is to keep oxygen from entering the bottle, and screw caps do that.

The widespread use of screw caps began in New Zealand, primarily to seal their expressive bottlings of Sauvignon Blanc.

Then they started using them on red varieties. Within a few vintages, many Australian vintners followed suit.

Before long, consumers were accepting a crackle sound instead of a pop when opening their wine.

Not everyone hopped on the screw cap bandwagon, however. In particular, makers of high-end California Cabernet Sauvignon were reluctant to make the change because they were unsure there was widespread public acceptance for the idea.

Then came the changing of the millennium, and a highly acclaimed Napa Valley winery named Plumpjack decided to bottle half of its $150 Cabernet Sauvignon with screw caps and half with corks. The half with screw caps sold out first.

Now, we see lots of California wines sealed with screw caps.

Wineries in the Old World — France, Italy, Germany — have been slower to warm up to the idea that anything other than cork should be used to seal wine bottles. But there are some screw cap proponents, and I suspect we’ll be seeing more and more European wines sealed with screw caps. It just may take some time.

Long story short: There is absolutely nothing wrong with sealing a bottle with a screw cap instead of a cork. So enjoy that bottle of wine, give your friend a sincere thank you, and possibly a fun wine gift in return.

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