As the saying goes, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But should you judge a wine by its closure?
The wine closure can depict a lot about the wine, covering all the aspects from history and longevity to quality.
Let’s talk about the most popular wine closures
- WINE CORK
We have all had our comical struggle with the wine cork, and of course never alone, always in front of an audience. The wine corks have traveled through history and remain to be the most significant means to enclose a wine. They have been known to add theatre and character to a wine. The woody notes match perfectly with some of the best grapes across the world like Pinot Noir, Merlot, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Corks have been known to help a wine breathe as their porous nature aids the right amount of Oxygen injection into the bottle and shows the way out to other gases.
“Ah! The wine is corked.” How often do we come across this phrase? This happens because of the ‘Cork Taint’. Culprit for it is ‘TCA’, which is an acidic compound and is formed when the corks are sanitized with the chlorine and mold begins to form on some corks causing a musty or moldy flavor. Many producers make cork for their wine closures out of tree bark and, unfortunately, they don’t always know if parts of the bark were contaminated with fungicides or insecticides. If they were, their resulting corks would damage any wine they touch.
Apart from this using a cork comes at a high cost and most wines costing over $30 or Rupees 2200 have them in use. Corks are known to be very fragile and have to be moist to do justice, hence the bottle positioning can’t always be upright and has to be altered.
2. SCREW CAPS
Since their inception in the wine industry, screw caps have had a fair share of up’s and down’s. Certain wine makers in Australia were tormented with the amount of wine being wasted because of cork taints and came up with an aluminium alternative. Screw caps are often associated with cheap wines, which is not the case. Major New World Wines often try to express the varietal component of the wine. Their finished products are often focused on displaying the fruit’s varietal characteristics, these properties can be associated with screw-tops. They also give the wine a ‘Gen Z’ affiliation. Though screw caps are much more affordable, the quality of the wine is not compromised at all.
Easier to open and seal back the bottle already opened, screw caps march towards wine practicality, however, they should not be used for the wines that need to be aged as their seal is too tight and won’t allow the wine to mature properly.
For decades, Corks and Screw Caps have been holding the market threshold and fighting it off for the position.
Vino-lok is a glass closure for wine bottles, Invented in Germany in 2004. Glass corks were designed to look like decanter stoppers. They share the screw cap properties, and many new world wineries have been embracing the new development. It was not designed to lower costs, since it costs every bit as much as a high-quality cork, but solely to offer better protection for consumers and their wine.
Uncorking no longer requires a corkscrew but can be done just with the hands, and the cork can be resealed easily to preserve the bottle for the coming days.
The seal being too tight, would not be able to aid wine ageing as well as the traditional cork does.
This very cool and classy way to seal wine is still seen primarily in German and South African wines. In the United States, wineries in both Washington State and Napa Valley, California are trying out the Vino Seal on some of their produce.
• The Verdict
So this leaves us with a question, what is better?
Wine drinkers that do not store wines for a long period of time might draw out some advantage for screw caps and glass enclosures. However we cannot take away the drama and romance between a cork and a wine bottle, after all the beauty of innovation is that there’s still a place for tradition.
A wine enclosure is no more a sign of its quality, top of table world wineries use whatever is best for their product. Historians still hail for the evergreen wine cork, you just need to drink more wine to find out which varieties you like the best.