I’m laughing. An overly aggressive post name had to be done for the topic of twist off wine caps. While you may think twist offs are only for cheap wines, they do have a stronghold in the consumer market. Allowing for fast open and consume, as well as, close and save for later wine drinking experience.
I’ll set the scene. Hot summer day in Hope Ranch, California. A neighborhood in Santa Barbara, streets lined with palm trees and gates to driveways that deny any snooping of the mansion inside. Having the ability to twist off the cap of the wine bottle was more convenient, we would all agree. You’re greasy, thirsty and ready for rosé. But what is all the fuss?
Rosé for the day: Edna Valley Vineyard, California, Rosé
Corks vs Screw Caps
Corks can be problematic. The most common problem seen with a bottle of wine that was sealed with a cork is cork taint. Wine is supposed to smell fresh, fruity and powerful. It should not smell like mildew, cardboard and old laundry.
Fun fact: When a sommelier or wine focused restaurant gives you a taste of the wine after they open it at your table, you are supposed to smell and taste it to make sure there are no defaults. This is NOT to see if you like the wine or not. Defaults can be identified by aromas. These defaults could be Cork Taint from TCA (mildew, old damp laundry), Ethyl Acetate (vinegar or nail polish remover), Hydrogen Sulfide (rotten eggs).
From the Winc blog, a wine start-up that “creates and curates over a hundred wines” straight to your door, Nikki Michaels describes cork taint in a way that’s easy for all wine drinking backgrounds to understand. Natural corks have the potential of becoming contaminated by 2,4,6 -trichloroanisole. This chemical can infect the cork and over time infect the wine. TCA is not dangerous to consumers, but can alter the aroma and taste of wines by impacting the phenols.
Therefore, avoiding the possibility of cork taint has allowed the rise of screw off caps on wine bottles. According to Wine Folly, screw caps have shown positive aging characteristics when tested over time. The difficult part of screw caps is that they are typically associated with a cheaper quality of wine. Overcoming the stereotype of screw caps will take time, lots of it, but could prove to be something of the future if the ease of opening the bottle becomes more important to the consumer.
Why stay with cork usage? According to Earth 911, corks are a Naturally Renewable Resource and 100% biodegradable. They are a limited renewable resource, but cork trees are in fact an environmentally sustainable resource. When making wine corks, layers of the tree can be scraped off without any harm being done to the tree. Learn more at Earth 911 about recycling your wine corks.
While easier to open, if what allows us to close and store the drink of the gods (wine) can come from a place that is better for the environment, screw caps might not be here to stay.
Cheers! Happy sipping!