Cork vs Screw Cap: The Fight Is On

The Billing

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.



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  1. One thing not mentioned in your pros & cons is that screw cap bottles can be stored upright whereas cork sealed bottles need to be kept on their side & there is no guarantee that this has actually happened prior to purchase.

  2. Tim Mason


    Screw-tops for everyday drinking wines, cork for better wines and for one sto keep.

  3. Clifford Gall


    just fill my glass screw tops are handy when having a barby indoors any

  4. a screw cap for me, a cork takes too long to open.

  5. Anonymous


    I would never buy a wine with a screw top, poor quality & some even leak.

  6. Bruno Achard


    I think there's good reasons for using cork for decades , for me , it's part of the wine . It keep ageing wines better , it's a tradition and also the lovely noise that it makes when opening a bottles ! You can't get that with a screw top !

  7. The cap or cork is there to preserve the integrity and taste of the wine. As long as that function is fulfilled, it does not matter which is used. Using 'romance, appearance and prestige' as a argument for cork is rather weak.

  8. Peter Robinson


    Screw caps all the way. The wife can't hear me open another bottle!

  9. Screw caps for everyday wines at home, cork for wines sold in restaurants as the theatre of opening the bottle is part of the meal experience.

  10. Brian Justin DUNPHY HOBBS


    I cancelled my subscription to Virgin Wines after receiving the first order because all the bottles had screw tops. I will not pay good money for wine that is bottled like a soft drink. I ordered good California red wines that I know do not come with a screw top in my native country. Wine should be elegant and bottled with care – not treated like coca-cola. What next plastic PET bottles???

  11. Rincewind_68


    Depends, if I want to keep the wine, or lay it down for a few years, then I would go for the cork. Screw top wine is fine for a year or two. Having tried wines that were sealed with corks, but now sealed with screw top (Diablo is one example) there isn’t much difference other than the vintage or year

  12. Anonymous


    Screw cap is absolutely fine for everyday; I am even starting to enjoy the sound and feel of the ‘crack’ of the seal as part of the theatre of opening the bottle.
    Also, the question is asked ‘Does a screw-top ruin the romance a cork would otherwise enhance?’ … well I don’t know about that but I certainly know that a ‘corked’ bottle can be embarrassing at the very least, especially when entertaining guests. I’ll take a guarantee that the wine isn’t spoilt any day.

  13. Friend of mine was a wine waiter. He had a moment of embarrassment when serving a screw top wine. He presented the wine to the host, not realising it was screw top until too late, and asked if he wanted to taste the wine to see if it had been ummm “screwed”

  14. I judge a wine by its taste and satisfaction not by price or whether it has a cap or cork. If the cork is retained for the better quality wines this will give the wine snobs more ammunition with which to mock.

  15. Cork for me every time. Wine is just not wine without it!! Think the pros and cons missed the fact that much of the wine is shipped here to the uk and then rehydrated and bottled here by the supermarkets.

  16. John King.


    There appears to be little difference that I can discern between the wine when consumed, however in that case I’d like to point out the environmental benefits of cork. The Spanish cork Oak forests are a last refuge for endangered species like European Wolves.
    Go cork every time.

  17. Ballymena Paul


    There is no difference between cork and screw top – it’s just wine snobbery! Admittedly the ritual of removing a cork does add something – but not to the taste. If you would care to send me two cases – one corked and one screw caped then I would be happy to conduct research and confirm.

  18. Douglas T Best


    I’m not that much of a wine buff but I know what I like and if it is to my liking then I will drink it, “screwed or corked”

  19. Jacquie


    I much prefer a cork and the cheap wine reference is rubbish – in Portugal every bottle had a cork whether it was €2 or €20. As someone previously mentioned a lot of our supermarket wine is bottled here which is why it has a screw cap – imagine the romance of a Sainsbury’s bottling plant!

    We also make out own wine and proper cork wine bottles are the only option for bottling your own.
    The other thing no ones mentioned is the smell – having removed the cork with the appropriate romantic flourish you should also sniff the cork. My husband also does something fancy with the metal covering so you can stand the cork in it – you can’t do that with a screw cap.

  20. I haven’t been to the countries producing cork for wine bottles recently, but some of the cork forests are extremely important for wildlife. As these become derelict through lack of management because owners are unable to sell the cork for wine bottling so we loose the wildlife. See this article



    For me, it has to be cork. Maybe I’m getting old, but screw caps just do not do it for me. Disappointing to find so many otherwise decent wines being adulterated with cheap and nasty tops!

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