Over the last few years more wines have appeared with screw caps as their method of closure. However we all know that the best wines need to be sealed under a nice cork right? While the screw-top indicates a wine of lesser quality? These are the widely held beliefs of so many, but are they accurate assumptions? Below we take a more detailed look as these two battle it out to the bitter end, who will be the last seal standing? You decide!
The Weigh In
Pros – Cork
- Corks are a very green choice, due to the fact that they are a renewable resource as the trees are not killed when the bark is stripped to make cork and they are biodegradable.
- Some of the stricter Old World regions don’t allow the use of anything but a cork closure. Thus maintaining the classical style and prestigious appearance.
- It is also the best way to close wines that are meant to be aged, as its porous nature allows the wine to breath. This applies in particular to red wines.
- One of the big reasons people are ‘pro-cork’ is down to the fact that it is the traditional way of sealing wine, and a screw cap can’t compare with the drama and romance of popping a cork out of a bottle! A cork screw is still seen as an integral part of the wine drinking process.
Pros – Screw Cap
- The big pro is that screw caps stop a wine from becoming ‘corked’, and they don’t allow the wine to be oxidised which can happen when synthetic corks are used.
- Better for short to medium term storage and drinking. On the off-chance that you manage to resist finishing off the whole bottle, a screw cap is better at resealing.
- White wines especially benefit from screw caps as they keep the wine fresh, promote consistent ageing and maintain flavour.
- Screw caps are also easy to remove, wherever, whenever – no need for a cork screw or the more adventurous ‘shoe-tapping’ technique!
Cons – Cork
- Reportedly 3-5% of global wine is said to be ‘corked’. This happens when the wine reacts with a substance called 2,4,6 – Trichloroanisole (TCA), which is caused by the chlorine in the cork reacting with the mold that sometimes grows in them.
- Corks can often be very hard to get out of the bottle causing little bits of it to get into the wine.
- Cheap wines are often stoppered with cheap cork and these are more likely to have some taint.
- Whilst cork is recyclable there are only so many cork boards you need around the house. Plus it takes a lifetime to break down naturally and ultimately most people throw them in with their general household rubbish.
Cons – Screw Caps
- Screw caps imply environmental issues associated with the loss of cork farming. After removing the outer layer of bark it results in the tress consuming huge amounts of carbon dioxide, making the World a better place, in some forests up to 14m tonnes of CO2 are consumed.
- Stelvins, whilst recycled in some areas, are for the most part thrown away with the general rubbish.
- Although screw caps will prevent a wine from being tainted by TCA. The wine can still be affected negatively by poor storage and heat fluctuation.
- No matter how many positives the screw cap has, it never feels quite as satisfying unscrewing a bottle of wine. The romance, appearance and prestige of removing a cork in front of guests is an experience in itself and cannot be recreated using a screw top.
Going to the Cards
There we have it, we can do no more, the rest is up to you. Does a screw-top ruin the romance a cork would otherwise enhance? Does a cork embarrass you with your fumbling hands at the corkscrew trying to release the wine in all its glory? We want to settle this debate once and for all, the billing can get no bigger than this, and now you control the destiny of this historic battle. Leave your comments below.