Can ‘screwtop’ wines be ‘corked’?

Screwtop capsule unbroken when taken off bottle of wine

‘Corked’ bottles of wine always annoy people with good cause and so winemakers have looked for alternatives to corks.

The problem with corks has been the lack of quality of cheaper corks resulting in ‘off’ wines. This arises for two reasons, cork taint (2,4,6-Trichloroanisole (TCA)) and oxidisation caused by faulty corks allowing air into the bottle. Screwtops and artificial corks have been introduced to get around these problems. (There are actually a whole raft of reasons why a wine may not be at is best, see here for more reasons.)

Screwtops, or ‎Stelvin screw caps as they are known in the trade, have long been recommended as the closure of preference for wines that are not designed to be aged for a long time, that is, most cheaper wines. The challenge, as always, is cost. It costs quite a bit to introduced a Stelvin bottling machine so why not try artificial corks; plastic ‘corks’ and composite (cork plus silicone-like ‘glue’) ‘corks’ are alternatives.

We have had a lot of trouble with plastic ‘corks’ and won’t knowingly buy a wine with a plastic closure although others say that they have not had any problems. We haven’t had any problems with composites. In our view, the benefit of a cork or a composite is the pleasure of having to pull the cork; a screwcap is just not the same. But, a screwcap is far easier to open. So it really is a personal preference.

So how can wine be off if the closure is a screwcap? Well, it’s a manufacturing problem; the closure has not been put onto the bottle correctly and air has seeped into the bottle oxidising the wine. In the picture above you can see that the whole closure has come off rather than seal being broken and just the top bit coming off. This means that the closure was not tight on the bottle thus allowing air to get in.

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