I guess the old saying, “Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse..”, rings true for me today. As I was gathering my thoughts and data for a magazine article yesterday, about the increase in use of metal screw top caps in it got worse. There it was, a picture on Facebook with a story about wine in flip top cans. They were looking for comments, like or not, and the responses were all over the map. Of course there were the outdoor lot of campers and such that love the idea, no broken glass you know. And then the “Purest” who were shocked that anyone would even drink wine from an aluminum can !
Gee wiz ! And all I was concerned with was a metal screw top cap!
The mystique of ordering that prestige bottle of wine for dinner, and waiting in anticipation as the Wine Stewart opens the bottle and places the cork in front of you, sets the stage. Do I pick it up, sniff it, or cut into it to search for mold? Everyone watches as you examine the bottle, cork, and swirl, sniff and sip, determining whether it is exactly what you expected, or not.
Today that is quickly becoming an exception, not a rule, with wineries throughout the world at least trying the screw cap. You will find some started with them on their white wines, and many and I mean some well known, creating fine wines, are bottling reds as well. Some examples of these are seen in the photo, examples of Capitello’s Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, Charles Creek in Alexander Valley, California and from Roseburg, Oregon, Abacela. The plain truth is that you are hard pressed to find wines from New Zealand that are not sealed with metal screw caps.
What it boils down to, at least in my opinion, is which of the methods will preserve the flavors and condition of that bottle of wine. We realize cork has it’s issues, and also the plastic synthetic corks have been found to not completely seal. Anyone who has opened a tainted bottle of wine knows the experience isn’t pleasant, especially when at home, where a wine stewart isn’t there to get a replacement.
I have to say that over the past few years, I have on many occasions ordered a screw cap bottle of wine, or pulled one from my wine cellar, and never experienced a problem with those bottles of wine. My only problem is I can’t use my fancy electric bottle opener, which I might add, I haven’t tried to use, yet, on metal caps which others have I’m told.
In recent years, wineries worldwide, as well as research facilities performing comparative studies. Most of these have found, which I’m sure pisses off the “Wine Snobs”, that the metal seals eliminate all oxidation issues, and will ensure a taint-free sip, of well aged, high quality wine.
What are the chances that all wines someday will have screw caps, and replace the use of cork? You can argue that soda pop used to come in glass bottles, now it’s aluminum or plastic. Chances are no, at least not in our lifetimes, unless a government agency somewhere decides they are hazardous for our health. Until that time, you will always have the diehards in Europe and yes, the United States, who will demand that cork has always been the traditional way, and will refuse to change.
Will we ever see a wine list that contains a list of screw cap wines separate from corked wine bottles? It would of course be your choice when brought to your table before opening to send it back if it has a screw cap. Seriously ?
When it comes to ordering a fine bottle of wine in a restaurant, or selecting one from my wine cellar, I believe one thing.. If you are ordering a quality wine, from a quality winery, that winemaker has chosen the method for everything involved with that wine, to satisfy you. If he or she has chosen a screw cap for my $300 bottle of Bordeaux, so be it, I’m all in. After all, it’s what’s in your glass that counts.