Although the screw cap was first created for pharmaceutical purposes and to seal such beverages as mineral water, soft-drinks, and hard-liquors, it’s had a place within the wine industry for far longer than many realize. Traditionally, the cost was notably less compared to its cork counterpart and for this reason it was mainly used in wines that were both low in price and low in quality. But their usage wasn’t solely based on their attractive price tag. Winemakers found that the utilization of corks with low quality wines made these wines practically undrinkable so other methods of sealing the bottle, such as the screwcap, were introduced to subdue these negative characteristics as well as prolong a bottle’s shelf life. Today, the main “defect” of the screwcap is in fact not a defect at all, but a negative perception taken from its history: it is associated with an image of low-quality wine, particularly in the countries where it was traditionally produced (France, Italy, Spain).
Interestingly enough, while the progress of materials has been able to better the performance and overall image of the screwcap, modernization has not been as kind to the cork –as nothing is able to guarantee the absence of it’s negative organic substances blending with a wine. In this respect, the synthetic cork represents a notable improvement compared to the standard cork, but it is still an “imitation” with some issues regarding the oxida tion of the wine. In fact the synthetic cork cannot completely prevent oxygen from sneaking into the bottle, that means a reduction in the shelf-life of the wine to about 2 years for whites and 3-4 years for reds.
Screw caps are already largely used in some markets (Canada, Switzerland, Scandinavia, England, New Zealand, and are breaking cultural and mental barriers in more traditional countries thanks to their long list of strengths. How many of these were you aware of?
– They do not give abnormal taste or odor to the wine
– They prevent oxygen from entering the bottle
– They reduce the sulphite content (antioxidants)
– They are easy to open and close
– They are hygienically more secure
– They increase shelf life
For these reasons, screw caps are overtaking the cork as the preferred bottle closure by wine growers and winemakers alike. They literally protect the fruit of their labor.
And what about the bottlecap? This method happens to be one of the most preferred closures of enologists as it can guarantee the optimal aging of millions and millions of bottles of sparkling wine and champagne for years… but this, our friends, is another story.