About the same time Vinesse came into being, a 10-year study by the Australian Wine Research Institute was just getting under way.
The study dealt with the effectiveness of screw caps as wine bottle closures. Were they just as effective as corks? Less effective? Could they possibly be more effective?
At the time, a small number of wineries had embraced the closure, mostly for their lower-priced bottlings. And, as one might imagine, there was quite a bit of blow-back from the cork-producing industry.
I can remember one meeting among our company’s small staff. We were considering featuring a wine that was sealed with a screw cap, and we wondered what our members would think about it. Would they be turned off by the idea? I can vividly recall strong cases being made on both sides of the issue.
All of us appreciated the history and tradition associated with corks, and we understood that a vast majority of wines sealed with corks ended up smelling and tasting just as the vintner envisioned.
That said, if there was a better way to protect that wine in the bottle, we were open to giving it a try. Over time, Vinesse featured more and more wines sealed with screw caps.
When the study was completed, the results were reported in Wine Spectator magazine.
Interestingly, and significantly, the study wasn’t undertaken to prove anything about screw caps, one way or another. Rather, it was to determine how well wine would age under various closures.
A 1999 Semillon was selected for the test, and after 10 years, the wine aged in bottles sealed with a screw cap were “wonderful to drink,” according to the Wine Spectator story.
As for most of the wines sealed with any other closure, they were “completely undrinkable.” It was a big win for screw caps.
The study underscored another long-held tenet of the Vinesse staff — that long-term aging of wine is a calculated risk at best.
A vast majority of wines being made today are drinkable and enjoyable upon release. Some may benefit from another year or two in the bottle, but beyond that, the possibility of encountering a tainted wine heightens with each passing year.
While the screw cap may not be as “romantic” as the cork, there is proof that it’s very reliable over the long haul.
I know around our house, we get equally excited about the “crackle” of a screw cap as we do about the “pop” of cork. These days, we don’t even think about it anymore.