Ever heard the saying ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’?
Well, the same goes for wine.
‘Don’t judge a bottle of wine by its cap.’ Screw cap, that is.
It’s not uncommon for a person to walk into a wine store and choose a bottle that is corked over one with a screw cap. I know- I used to be party to this bias myself a long time ago. No more.
Screw caps have been around since the late 1950s when they were associated with jug wines. Countries such as Switzerland and France then began to use them for wine in the ’60s and ‘70s and they rapidly became a large share of the market.
Gradually, over the past decade, more and more winemakers are opting into the ‘screw cap revolution’. Commercial winemakers in Australia and New Zealand (who had phased them out in the ’80s due to customer resistance) reintroduced them and are using screw caps more widely for all kinds of wine.
Winemakers became tired of getting the low quality of cork taint and a large switch over was seen in February 2014.
As a wine drinker or purchaser, you may have noticed that screw caps are no longer used solely to cap cheap[er] vino. Increasingly, bottles of very good wines are screwed, rather than corked.
I think the days of associating screw caps with cheap wine are over or at least coming to an end, so why winemakers more inclined towards them?
CONS OF CORKS
Limited natural resources
1-3% affected by cork taint
PROS OF CORKS
Natural renewable resources
Proven long-term aging
Winemakers increasingly prefer using screw caps for white wine and red wine that is meant to be consumed young. The caps also keep the wine well sealed keeping oxygen out of the bottle. The wine, therefore, remains crisp and well preserved.
A big plus for screw caps is that they’re easy to open. No more fiddling with a corkscrew and more importantly, no broken cork bits floating in your wine.
To top it all off, by unscrewing the cap, we get wine 10 seconds faster. Hello!
What ultimately matters is the taste. I know I’m still making my wine purchases based on the juice inside, not the way it is topped.
Next time you see a screw cap on a bottle of wine, try it first, then judge. You won’t be sorry.