Which closure do you hate the most? [poll]

A few weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal ran a story about Nomacorc, a producer of synthetic corks. The story ran a graphic depicting market share by closure type, with data from Nomacorc. Corks were listed at 69%, plastic corks at 20%, and screw caps at 11%.

That struck me as not at all my experience: I would have guesstimated that screw caps outnumbered synthetic corks by two-to-one instead of the other way around. Finding data on closures is surprisingly difficult, especially data over time or by different world regions. In part, the difficulties lie in whether to limit the the wine market by bottle price or by size (e.g. are jug wines included).

A representative from the Cork Quality Council indicated that synthetic corks have an even larger market presence than Nomacorc’s estimates but underscored that a handful of purchasing directors control the lion’s share of synthetic closures.

Wine Business Monthly runs an annual report about closures. The 2009 report included responses from 229 wineries. Their data show a shift over five years toward “technical” corks (agglomerated granules of natural cork with natural cork disks glued to the ends) and away from synthetic corks (Nomacorc is extruded, making it a bit softer, whereas other plastic corks are injection molded, forming a more solid form; the red one in the photo above is injection molded. Read more about the differences here.). The report shows screw caps gaining market share.

While it is difficult to determine the precise relative market shares of each closure, we can express our opinions about closure type. The major downside of corks is the problem of cork taint (TCA), which can produce pungent aromas of moldy newspapers. Screw caps eliminate TCA but may create a virtually anaerobic environment that the wines become plagued by “reduction”–John Gilman expressed his dislike of screw caps here.

But plastic closures draw the most ire. Jancis Robinson has begged producers to stop using them, calling them “utterly infuriating.” David Schildknecht of the Wine Advocate has lamented in a review the loss of aromas over time in wines using this closure. Tom Matthews of Wine Spectator recently tweeted “2005 white Rhone + synthetic cork = 3 maderized bottles and several sad and angry wine lovers.”

What do you say–which closure type do you like the least? And feel free to add a comment with your thoughts on market share based on your experiences.

Which closure do you like the LEAST?

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Seeking Closure: Plastic Stoppers Crack 400-Year-Old Natural Cork” [WSJ]

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57 Responses to “Which closure do you hate the most? [poll]”

  1. Call me lazy, but I much prefer to twist off a screw cap than to wrestle a fake cork out of a bottle. I also find it pretentious when a winery uses a screw cap for its white, but switches to a synthetic cork for its red–especially since most of these wines are inexpensive and should be drunk soon. Why not just make it easy on the consumer, and while you’re at it, take some of the mysticism out of the idea of opening a bottle of wine? It should be as easy as popping open a beer, not an exercise in arm strength.

  2. Couldn’t agree more with GR. Teaching new wine consumers how to open bottles of wine with a synthetic is infuriating. More often than not, it takes the strength of Atlas to remove it; whereas a screwcap yields to less force. It may not be as sexy, but form should sometimes lose to function.

  3. I would guess that you notice more screwcaps than synthetic corks simply because synthetic corks (and regular corks) are usually hidden by foil, so it looks like the same old bottle. Screwcaps still tend to stick out a bit more on a shelf of wine.

    It also seems like screwcaps are being adopted by fine wine and bargain wine producers alike, while synthetics are generally used by more bargain-priced or mass-produced wine because of their affordability (real cork can cost up to and over a dollar per bottle).

  4. Synthetic corks can also wreak havoc on rabbit ear-type wine openers. Bad for the gears.

  5. I was just reading that synthetic corks are actually better at keeping wine from losing its flavor. Not true? Also, how long of a time, with regard to wine storage, are we talking about on average? Would you not agree that a large number of wine consumers buy a bottle or two from the grocery store and consume it within the week? Does screw top, cork, or synthetic cork matter in that case?

  6. Karen: not sure I buy into the argument that synthetics keep wine from losing its flavor. From speaking with people who have conducted tests with all the closures (most recently Rowald Hepp from Schloss Vollrads), screwcaps and glass closures are winning the long-time storage game. But you’re right, the vast majority of consumers will drink any wine within the first year after release, so perhaps the question is how easy/convenient a closure would be for the buyer… plus, how cheap/convenient the closure is for the winery.

  7. I would much rather screw than pull.

  8. As much as I hate the screw tops (2nd worse closure), the synthetic corks are just a pain to remove sometimes. It’s almost as though they are glued to the inside of the bottle. Get rid of them!!

    I will always prefer the cork to the screw top. Especially when I’m spending a lot of $$ on a special bottle of wine. It’s more romantic and I feel, in some way, that I am really opening the bottle that was closed years ago. I need to hear the “pop”. The “click” of the screw top just doesn’t do it for me. Although I am getting more used to them for my non-collectible bottles.


  9. This question, asked many times and in many ways, makes me realize this morning that the enclosure I dislike the most is the enclosure that either damaged the wine or modified the winemaker’s approach.

    A corked cork is as bad as a reduced or oxidized screw cap is as bad as a synthetic that is poorly designed and leaks when I put it back in the bottle and lay it flat in the fridge.

    The change in winemaking is a bigger question, but equally valid. More than a sound or a visual, I want a closure to preserve the winemaker’s intent and labor.

  10. Dr.Vino, you are a respected wine writer and I applaud the work you do to inform and enthuse wine lovers in the US and across the world. Your information on synthetic closures is patchy though, so please be kind enough to allow a few comments from someone who makes a living from them!

    You write that ‘Nomacorc is extruded, making it a bit softer, whereas other plastic corks are molded’ and by implication less soft. How you make a synthetic cork has only a minor influence on its softness – overwhelmingly more important are the material used to make it and what density of that material is used. Some leading extruded closures use low-density polyethylene as their main or sole ingredient. So do some molded closures. LDPE is an inherently rigid material given a degree of softness by being foamed into thin-walled cells. Softer synthetic wine closures tend to be made with inherently flexible materials, such as the thermoplastic elastomer which we use.

    It is true that extruded closures have a larger share of the synthetic cork market in the US, which is why the majority of you and your readers’ experiences are with this type of synthetic and why your views of the whole category tend towards the negative. Using a more inherently flexible material as we do is the reason why in a recent market research project undertaken by the Tragon Corporation 85% of US wine consumers preferred SupremeCorq to ‘a leading extruded synthetic closure’. The reasons for their preference? Easier to get the corkscrew in, easier to extract the cork, easier to get it off the corkscrew and easier to re-insert it.

    As to concerns about shelf-life, it’s true that some cheaper and more rigid synthetic corks allow too much oxygen to reach the wine, resulting in a more rapid development of the wine when compared to a natural cork. It’s also true that screwcaps allow far less oxygen to reach the wine when compared to a natural cork, resulting in slow or no development, or even reduction. That’s why we developed our leading synthetic cork, the SupremeCorq X2, to mirror the permeability of a high-grade natural cork and to give the same wine preservation performance.

    Please forgive the somewhat lengthy comment but it’s an important subject and there is a lot of misleading information out there!

  11. While I hate wrestling with synthetic corks in the first place, what really infuriates me is trying to re-cork them in the unusual event we don’t finish the bottle. I usually try to keep a handful of natural corks on hand, because there’s no way those plastic or foam corks are going back in…

  12. What I’m finding is that I cannot vacu-pump an opened screwcap bottle to preserve the wine because the diameter of the neck is a bit too wide to give the rubber vacu-cork a snug fit.

    With that noted; there is something about plastic corks that sez “cheap”, even if the wine inside happens to be surprisingly good.

  13. I think this debate has as much to do with who’s buying and storing the wine. The consumers most likely to store a wine in marginal conditions (temp spikes and dips) are often the same consumers who buy wines with plastic closures.

    Plastic closures under ideal storage conditions tend to do OK in my experience but in a situation where you have temperature fluctuations they tend to let air seep in and out with the pressure variance. So here you have a wine that is not necessarily built for the ages going downhill fast.

    I don’t think the reduction problem is as big as some people say. I’m all for screwcaps but admit we still use traditional cork for our wines.


  14. We have been using a alternative to the metal twist top.
    Ca’ Momi is the first winery in the U.S. to feature the Nova Twist closure for some of the wines. This closure makes the bottle 100% recyclable (unlike traditional metal screw caps), has no sharp edges, and has approximately 1/3 the carbon foot print of metal screw caps.
    We have been very happy with the results and so have our customers.

  15. Did you say you read that article in the Wall Street Journal? That reminds me…..

    Does anyone know what is going on with John & Dottie? Are they still under some sort of severance-induced gag order? I can’t wait until they are back on the scene.

  16. I, too, was surprised to see the stats on plastic corks. Just not the wines I buy, I guess.
    I prefer natural cork. Quality of natural cork has improved significantly over the past decade and I rarely encounter a “corked” bottle these days – especially from a quality producer. Opening isn’t an issue – but you could say I’ve had a lot of practice.
    I frequently drink 5, 10, 15 year old wines. Rarely do I have a problem – especially when I know they’ve been properly stored. A recent 10 year study by AWRI (the Australian Wine Research Institute) finding that screw caps are the superior closure lost all credibility with me when it proclaimed that “most of the wine sealed with closures other than screw cap were completely undrinkable” … Huh? Tell that to the amazing 1999 Barolo I had the other night. Or the bottles of 1997 Chianti in my cellar.
    I like screw caps, and they are fine for everyday whites. But I haven’t been that impressed with several of the screw cap wines I’ve had that should have been better – it seems that the higher-end screw cap wines don’t have the elegance I expect at that price point. But I’ve really only had a handful of $35+ screw cap wines.
    Comments about how “consumers will drink the wine within a week” are missing the fact that wines are typically bottled once a year and often are bottle-aged before distribution. So even if you open it the day you buy it, it has probably been in the bottle for a year before you take it home.

  17. Why not split the difference and look into the alternative closure ZORK?

    It opens by unstripping the seal, (no tool needed), offers a celebratory POP, protects the wine, eliminates cork taint, reseals easily (other bottles too) – is reusable and recyclable.
    Don Sebastiani/TOG saw the benefit years ago and use ZORK on a number of their brands. http://www.zorkusa.com for more info.

  18. I think a lot of it depends on how much wine you open. If you’re a normal wine fan and maybe open three bottles a week, using a hacksaw to lop off the neck of the bottle wouldn’t be a big deal. If you’re a wineblogger who opened 30 bottles last week because every PR firm shipped at the same time, then you’ll fall in love with screwcaps real quick.

    I hate the hard, plastic corks, but the worst I ever encountered was a weird cork in a Prosecco bottle. I’d never seen it before or since–think a Champagne cork, but the “mushroom cap” is only about an eighth of an inch tall. I broke one corkscrew and damaged another removing that one. If I had known it was going to be that problematic, I would have clamped the bottle in a vise and drilled out the cement-like cork.

  19. Thanks for the comments!

    Some people on Twitter brought up glass closures. There are also beer (aka “crown”) caps that are popular particularly among some Austrian wines bottled in 1L or bigger. These alternative alternatives don’t appear to have greater than a 1% market share at this point.

    Damien, yes, it would be interesting to explore further how the process of bottling differs with different closures.

    Simon Waller – thanks for your comment. I take your point that it is not the method (extrusion or injection molding) that makes the synthetic cork softer or more rigid but actually the material used.

  20. Also, a representative from Amcor wrote in saying they estimate the screw cap market (aka Stelvin closures) to be three billion units last year, or about 12% market share. This is up from 300 million units in 2003.

  21. Regardless of preference, the debate about which is the best closure has been settled.

    One picture, 1,000 words: http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor2/tswa20100416.php

    I used to share the same opinion as Bob above who says, “I will always prefer the cork to the screw top. Especially when I’m spending a lot of $$ on a special bottle of wine. It’s more romantic and I feel, in some way, that I am really opening the bottle that was closed years ago. I need to hear the “pop”.”

    However, I have since changed. Mostly, at this point, if I spend a lot of money on a wine, I want the wine to perform when opened. I opened an $80 bottle of wine this weekend that I’d been saving for 2 years, and it was corked. That was extraordinarily disappointing. While I will always prefer the romance of the “pop” of the cork to the “click” of the screwcap, in the end, my true preference is for a wine that delivers and drinks the way the vineyard and winemaker intended. And screwcaps/stelvin closures are proving to be able to consistently deliver that experience. If the wine is drinking as it was intended and hitting on all cylinders, I can get over the lack of pop…or perhaps just turn the music up so it won’t matter anyway.

  22. There are different merits in most closures (I use Diam, a type of technical cork, for most of my own red production but am open to screwcaps for white/rose wines). I would like to make two points: (1) Most reduction in screw capped wines is a winemaking fault, i.e. preparing a wine for bottling in the exactly same way as one would for cork will lead to problems; and (2) for all that people express there likes/dislikes for screwcaps (including the lack of “romance”, which I have often considered somewhat disingenuous at times), in New Zealand where for better or worse over 80% of the wines on our shelves/wine lists are screwcapped and consumers have largely gotten over the emotional issues, the sheer conveneience factor of screwcaps means that cork or other closures can be a genuine disadvantage – consumers will bypass non-screwcapped wine as they consider it an inconvenient bother. As I say, rightly or wrongly, as I personally don’t decide that way.

  23. Finally, it is worth circling back to the WSJ story by Timothy Aeppel that sparked this post. It struck me as odd at the time that it was datelined Zebulon, NC (the location of Nomacorc’s HQ) and proceeded with a triumphant take on Nomacorc’s products and history. (“How Plastic Popped the Cork Monopoly:
    Plastic cork maker Nomacorc has quietly revolutionized the 400-year-old wine-cork industry.”)

    Given that over 300 people have voted in this poll and 73% find synthetic closures the most offensive (about the same as a consumer study cited in the WBM report), why was there no consumer perspective quoted in the piece? Or a wine expert such as those three that I cited in my post? Even wineries have grown tired of synthetics as the WBM report shows (chart 1) synthetics to have had the lowest and declining overall rating for the past four years.

    The poll embedded in the WSJ online article was also odd since it did not include screw caps as a voting option, despite 11% market share, pitting only corks against synthetic corks (corks trounced the synthetics with 97% of the votes cast).

    While the story of changes in wine closures in the past decade or two is fascinating, perhaps the most interesting angle remains unexplored in the WSJ piece: how a closure that has so little popular acceptance (and limited even among winemakers, it seems) has made such large market share gains.

  24. Full disclosure: I started Neocork, one of the synthetic cork pioneers, though I haven’t been involved for over 5 years.

    Both the author’s surprise that screw caps use is currently a little less than synthetics, and that the readers of this blog prefer wood cork are predictable. You represent a slice of the world of wine. You are passionate about wine. It’s a big part of your life. You buy wine from you buddy at the independent wine shop, which is really cool.

    But you don’t buy your wine in that “other 90%” of the market where wine is sold such as supermarkets, Outback Steakhouse and the Olive Garden. That market slice easily accepts synthetics and is learning to like screw caps too. They don’t think too much about closures, they just want to drink consistent and decent wine. Wineries in this “tiny 90% of the market sliver” will use whatever closure provides a consistent consumer experience. That’s why wood bark has lost so much share to screw cap and synthetics in just 15 years.

  25. Regardless of preference, the debate about which is the best closure has been settled.

    One picture, 1,000 words: http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor2/tswa20100416.php

    Thank you, Boyd! I realize the screwcap may lack the romance of the cork, but I’ll take a reliably sound closure over romance any day, especially on a more expensive bottle.

    PS: The screwcap that outperformed all other closures in the Australian study is a Stelvin.

  26. Andy Starr may have a point. I don’t encounter many synthetic corks and don’t like them when I do, but have noticed that they’re easiest to get out of the bottle with a butterfly corkscrew, which is probably the type of corkscrew a casual wine drinker is most likely to have. So, if you’re not having trouble getting the cork out of the bottle and you’re fine with the wine, why would you care?

  27. Andy has a good point–most people don’t think twice about closures and definitely account for the majority of the market. However, people who spend big $$$ on wine, usually expect a cork. People who treat wine like an everyday commodity (like orange juice) don’t care as long as they can easily figure out how to open the bottle. Screwcaps are easy to figure out; some of the other alternatives out there are not.

    The cork industry seems to have done a decent job of trying to show that it cares about the quality of its product although there are still some shady companies out there. Either way, I don’t think the tide will ever turn–the absolute best case scenario is that cork doesn’t lose any further ground.

    Most commodity wine buyers I know don’t finish the bottle and then try to re-insert the plastic cork. When that doesn’t work, they don’t buy that bottle anymore. Ultimately, I expect synthetics to start losing ground.

    Screwcaps are predictable and easy to use and I expect their usage to increase as the “big monopolies”–who are invested in synthetic manufacturers–increase their usage of screwcaps.

    Ultimately, though, there is space for all closures in this world. I’m sure that there will be new ones hitting the market very soon…

  28. Lots of great discussion! A bit of additional perspective from Nomacorc:

    The most important survey isn’t what people say or vote on in an online poll but what they actually do when they buy wine. And since consumers continue to buy consistent, quality wine sealed with Nomacorc closures, the wisdom of consumers is clear.

    A few facts to consider:

    One out of every three bottles of wine produced in the U.S. is closed with Nomacorc’s patented co-extruded synthetic closures.

    According to AC Nielsen retail scan data Nomacorc closures are used by 36.7% of the top volume brands in the U.S.

    Regarding consumer perception, according to the 2007 and 2008 surveys conducted by Wine Intelligence, synthetic closures have a continuing high level of positive perception with North American consumers with 86% of consumers giving synthetics a “like to buy or neutral” rating.

    We continue to see double-digit sales increases around the world. As the clear market leader in the category, it tells us that synthetic closures are gaining, not losing, market share in North America. In fact, Nomacorc just sold our 10 billionth closure in our 10th year!

    Consumers vote with their purchase and repurchase of wines closed with Nomacorc. And Nomacorc continues to satisfy consumer’s needs with closure that consistently protect and preserve wine.

    Thanks for the opportunity to comment.

  29. I just had a concern and am wondering if any of the synthetic closure manufacturers as well as agglomerate cork folks would care to comment: do any use Bisphenol-A in their plastics, epoxies, and/or resins, or can they assure us that they do not?

    After reading about the concerns regarding this chemical compound which is common in plastics and, furthermore, about the dangers it may cause, I got rid of as much plastic as I could from my fridge, cooking utensils, and storage containers. It affects children more than adults, apparently, and I don’t expect my daughters to be drinking wine anytime soon, but I do try to keep the food and drink we ingest as pure as possible.

    Take a gander at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bisphenol-a and see what you think. Then ask yourself if you want to make sure you’re not getting any Bisphenol-A from your wine. It’s a fair question, no?

  30. RM has also perhaps hit on a factor that has been surprisingly less influential than might have been expected given the economic climate (and provided a possible explanation). Screwcaps are cheaper and provide producers with cost savings (remembering that they displace both a cork/synthetic cork and, in most cases, a capsule). The push to screwcaps would be greater but for reticence over consumer reaction AND, in some cases, vested interests in other closures.
    In the “early days”, economic savings were a clear factor in the adoption of screwcaps by at least some producers in Australia and New Zealand, before consumer demand turned the process into a rush.
    It might also be worth dwelling on the fact that one reason Australia and New Zealand producers disliked cork to begin with was the regularly voiced suspicion that either the shipping process was damaging or (according to conspiracy theorists) there was a tendency to receive a much higher proportion of defective cork batches in our corner of the world.
    I have no doubt that the cork industry has (belatedly) done a lot to get its house in order and has spent millions on R&D to reduce the incidence of TCA. However, the reputational damage is done and I only see a long slow slide in overall market share. As larger value wine/mass market producers progressively adopt screwcaps (which they will as sure as night follows day, for all their reticence) the process will develop a snowball effect, driven by consumers (especially younger wine drinkers with the lowest emotional attachment to cork).

  31. Just a quick point to add about the Australian AWRI trials. On the face of it the evidence for screwcaps from this trial, as evidenced by the photographs, was pretty overwhelming. I would note, however, that in 1999 when the trial was undertaken there were a number of current leading alternatives that were not even on the market at all (e.g. Diam corks, Zork closures, and others). One would also hope that cork reliability has improved to some degree in the intervening period also – 1999 was before cork started to really improve its act. Another factor not to be ignored is that while screwcaps, properly applied, do seem to keep a wine younger and fresher for longer, it is arguable that they lock in some faults that time and higher oxygen ingress might allow to dissipate.

  32. Todd,to quote you,

    A recent 10 year study by AWRI (the Australian Wine Research Institute) finding that screw caps are the superior closure lost all credibility with me when it proclaimed that “most of the wine sealed with closures other than screw cap were completely undrinkable” … Huh? Tell that to the amazing 1999 Barolo I had the other night. Or the bottles of 1997 Chianti in my cellar..”

    Where in the study did it say that? In fact, that is a complete fabrication on your part, and you have chosen to put it in quotation marks as though lifting it directly from a paper! Poor form.


  33. […] by RSS, or daily email. Thanks for visiting!SPIT: the wrong end In Wednesday’s post about wine closure preferences, some commenters expressed frustration about not being able to reinsert a synthetic cork back into […]

  34. For me, it depends if the wine is drinkable now or to be aged. I conducted a survey of my WineRelease.com subscribers last August and found some interesting results:

    Wines to be aged before drinking (most red wines)
    – Consumers: 76% prefer natural cork, 26% screw cap
    – Winery trade: 86% prefer natural cork, 19% screw cap

    Wines not recommended to be aged before drinking (most white wines)
    – Consumers: 64% prefer screw cap, 43% natural cork
    – Winery trade: 52% prefer screw cap, 50% natural cork

    Full results here: http://tinyurl.com/33k9zu5

  35. Were the people who responded allowed to check off more than one choice? The responses add up to more than 100 percent.

  36. First off, thanks for the post – I LOVE talking about closures! It is one of those topics that really has people taking sides – and that always leads to good debate!

    Let me preface this by saying that for my brand, tercero, I do all screw caps. I do this for numerous reasons which will be discussed below – but I am not anti-cork (or even anti-synthetics).

    Each type of closure certainly has its place in the market. Though synthetics certainly have a bad rep, they have improved tremendously over the past five years – period. At Fess Parker, where I am on the winemaking team, we use these for some of our wines, and have been for quite some time. I can honestly say that for a 3-5 year time frame, this type of closure may certainly be acceptable (depending upon manufacturer). We use an extruded synthetic, and it is not as difficult as others to get out of the bottle – and will go back in fairly smoothly after sitting out for awhile. Cost is certainly a major determining factor as to why these are as popular as they are – period.

    Natural corks certainly have their place as well – some of my greatest wine experiences have been with bottles under cork. The problems with cork, though, go beyond simple TCA issues. Of course those are the most pertinent here – but one other factor that needs to be explored is random oxidation factores. No two natural corks have the same pores and therefore no two will age in the same manner. There is a bit of ‘romanticism’ here knowing that wines will all evolve ‘individually’, but as a consumer, it can be nerve racking to open a bottle from a case, love it, and then open another one and have a completely different experience.

    Screw caps certainly have their potential faults as well – but to me, these are controllable. The three biggest knocks on screw caps are the perception that the closure is intended for ‘cheap’ wines, the lack of ‘pomp and circumstance’ in the process of opening these, and the feeling that wines under screwcap develop ‘reduced’ aromas.

    To answer no. 1, all we need to do is look at the Australian and NZ markets and realize how far these closures have come in changing this perception over there. It is quite common to see $100+ wines under screwcap there, and consumers accept and enjoy this. Not only that, but most of the highest priced wines are bottled under screwcaps except for the US market.

    As far as the ‘pomp and circumstance’ of opening these, I’m not really sure where to go with this. I would hope that consumers are more concerned with what is IN the bottle, and NOT how you go about getting to it . . .

    As far as the reduced aromas issue, the topic originally was brought up during the landmark AWRI study that some have pointed to (the great picture that awineloverspage reprinted). Some of the wines under screwcap showed signs of reduction. If you read the ‘fine print’ with regards to the study, you’ll find that the wine ITSELF was faulty to begin with – it had some serious mercaptans that were ‘hidden’ for a short time by SO2).

    I have never experienced systemic reduction issues with screw cap wines that could be attributed to the closure alone. The only way to know for sure is to try the wine under different closures and make sure it is the closure causing issues, and not the WINE itself. I have had numerous bottlings of wines specifically bottled under multiple closures and have not come across systemic issues – but I’m all ears should anyone have first hand experience otherwise . . .

    Looking forward to continuing the conversation (-:


  37. Don’t assume that everyone is smart enough to figure out a screw cap- I’ve had more than one person attempt to open a screw-capped bottle with a corkscrew, only to come back and complain about their broken corkscrew and/or the missing cork.

  38. My vote was for “don’t care”. Over the years I’ve opened enough wine that I’m okay with any closure as long as the wine is in good condition.
    Someone mentioned earlier they resealed the bottle with the original cork. Someone else said to be sure to reinsert the same way as the cork came out due to sanitary issues. I can verify the importance of this. Some years ago, in removing the top of the capsule, I noticed a distinct wet, moldy newspaper aroma. I decided to go ahead and pull the cork. Then the surprise – the wine was not corked, it was great. My wife and I had a glass with dinner and re-corked for the following day. As was my habit back then, I reinserted the cork upside down as most corks seem to insert better that way. The following day, the wine was completely undrinkable. The bottle had remained upright and the wine had never touched the cork. This illustrate how powerful those off putting aromatics can be. I now use the rubber stopper from Vacu-Vin but do not pump as I think it may affect the aromatics of the wine

  39. I am a painter. I often drink grape wine before painting. I think, it’s better to use the traditional cork, as that would protect the wine well, while there may be some problem by using plastic cork.

  40. Screw caps, I love screw caps! Whether it’s just my imagination or the real thing, I feel like screw caps keep wine fresher, longer. Who knows?
    All I know is, sometimes when I shop for wine, I want the best wine for the job at hand — say, to pair with a certain recipe, or for a specific context, like, summer sipping on the patio, whatever — and I choose the wine that can get that done that has a screwcap.
    But only in certain circumstances. I prefer corks, but I also adore convenience.

  41. Howdy,

    For me the important information is what you get when you open the bottle, not so much how it’s enclosed. In retail, I see plenty of people still want to have the romance of a true cork in their wine, and a lot of people still associate screw caps with cheap swill. Argyle’s Nuthouse Pinot Noir comes in a screw cap, and last time I checked it was a fantastic $50 bottle of wine!

    That’s my two cents!

  42. […] screwcaps versus corks: An English entrepreneur has sold this invention of single-serve plastic wine glasses–stem […]

  43. Two weeks ago, Opened a 30 year old bottle of California Zin, and in the process the cork came apart in pieces. Question is would the synthetic corks have avoided this problem, and yet kept the wine from going bad?

  44. Jerry,

    I would think that a synthetic cork would have oxidized the wine. I think a Stelvin closure would have worked perfectly though.

  45. Hi Jerry,

    How was the Zin? Who made it? If it was still tasting good, then the cork was the right tool for the job!

  46. The 1980 North Coast Zinfandel was made by Louis M. Martini. It was produced and bottled at the winery. (Napa County, California)
    The Zin did not taste good. My wife made a terrible face and I drank some just because I felt so bad because of the wines condition. I now have nine more bottles and guess they will make good decorations for the home. What is a “stelvin closure?”

  47. Hi Jerry,

    “Stelvin” is the brand name of the patented screw cap.

    Louis Martini’s 1980 Zin would probably have tasted the same in a screw cap or synthetic cork. In theory, if someone was planning on them holding for 30 years, about every 10 or 15 years they would need to be re-corked.

    How did you come by these? Was it something you had been holding for 30 years?!

    It’s just simple chemistry – the Zin was likely picked with high sugar levels and while that probably resulted in more alcohol (preservative) it left little acidity in the bottle, and little tannin naturally from the Zin. With a chemistry that is always evolving, breaking down, in the bottle, the starting components just aren’t there for most Zinfandels to last 30 years. Maybe if it was a Ridge you’d have had better luck. In fact, googling “age zinfandel” showed up this link right away:

  48. I bought the case with the idea of letting it age for a while, but not this long. We moved twice and while the wine was properly stored, I just forgot about it. Then I installed proper wine racks in my cold room and out they came from the box. It is my guess that the remainder of the bottles all have the same fate. They will make nice decorations because the label is very nice. Who recorks wine?

  49. I’ve only seen Penfolds doing it for their customers. It’s been a few years back but they brought their wine maker and hit 5 US cities and said bring whatever you have and we’ll recork it, and refill to the top anything that has evaporated with the correct wine and vintage. And they did. From $10 wines to Grange. That’s customer service!

    Beyond that, I’ve seen do-it-yourself corking kits and instructions, and that’s it.

  50. I’ve read the studies and seen it firsthand: the synthetic “corks” do not last and are not consistent. They lead to oxidized wines. The others might have problems, too, but nothing nearly as bad as with the plastic stoppers. I think any producer using those is stupid.

  51. Doug, are you sure it leads to oxidized wines? I think I’ve discovered more reduced wines with Stelvin or synthetics due to the lack of O2 transfer. Just another thought.

  52. […] screwcaps versus corks: An English entrepreneur has sold this invention of single-serve plastic wine glasses–stem and […]

  53. […] rally to their $22 million marketing campaign! The campaign, mostly in Britain, links a switch to synthetic wine closures to the decline of Mediterranean forests, a habitat for the endangered Iberian […]

  54. I’ve been in the wine business for 20 years and have done a ton of research. Many of the other comments are valid, and many are not. Screw cap wines experience redux in about 10% of the bottles which means the wine’s fruit is muted – so while you think there is nothing wrong w/ the wine it just doesn’t have much character or fruit. Screw cap wines can also get stinky w/ long term aging. Think about the minimal otr (oxygen transfer) and the SO2 that’s put into the bottle before you cap it. Synthetic corks are known to be 35% of the market. All big companies use them and many high quality wines use synthetics – why? because they’ve been testing them for more than 10 years and know that thier wine will be as it should be for at least 5 years. it does require the winemaker to make some adjustments as far as pulling vacuum etc. nothing new for the winemaker. Is it possible that all of these winerys know something more than Jancis or the random people that say they can’t pull the synthetic cork out of the bottle. I have a study that shows natural cork takes more lbs of pressure than synthetic corks like nomacorc and neocork. And screw cap isn’t always easy to twist off – I’ve had to open those bottles on several occassions on airlines and at restaurants because they are on so tight. There seems to be a wall blocking information between closures and consumers. I can name many wineries that make great wines that use all of the closures mentioned and their wines show as they should.

  55. Andrew,

    Care to share where you are getting your stats from on screwcap wines? I’ve never heard these figures before . . .

    Also, how many screw caps wines have you had that have ‘become stinky with long term aging’? Again, curious to hear.

    To me, this sounds as if you have bought the info out there lock stock and barrel without having the person data to back it up . . . but I could be wrong.

    Looking forward to your response.


  56. […] related news, plastic closures were the closure that consumers disliked the most by a two-to-one margin over all other closures in our recent poll. Permalink | Comments (0) […]

  57. […] some purchased fruit from Touraine, according to the wine’s American importer. Bottled under synthetic (extruded) cork, the nose is more funky than fruity and the wine is slightly darker in the glass. The wine has the […]


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