Are Screwcaps Better than Corks?

wine questions and queries

Are Screwcaps Better than Corks?

Wine Questions Answered…

by Paul Howard

Q: Screw caps seem to be becoming ever-prevalent on our wine bottles and part of me misses the satisfying ‘pop’ when pulling a cork. Is there a quality difference with corked and screw capped bottles or do the screw caps simply prevent cork taint?
Carl Dews, Keighley.

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A: Some perceive screwcaps as being of lesser quality, but some of the world’s greatest wine estates have converted to them. Most wine is made for immediate drinking rather than for ageing, so screwcaps are seen as an easy answer to cork taint, though they are not without their own drawbacks. Cork may turn out to be more suitable for wines made for ageing, but a full evaluation is naturally years away. Meanwhile, much better corks are now available in response to the screwcap threat, reducing the incidence of cork taint. All of this is of course win-win for the wine drinker. Screwcaps do remove any need for corkscrews, so most Sommeliers are actually delighted! Quality corks will remain available, allowing you to enjoy that satisfying pop and the wine.

Q: Just what are those dregs you find at the bottom of red wine bottles and why aren’t there any in white wine?
JT, via email.

A: The dregs are completely harmless sediment, usually a combination of tartrate crystals dyed red, plus tannins deposited as the wine matures in bottle. While white wines do not possess tannins they can still throw sediment of white tartrate crystals in just the same way and these can look like shards of glass. Hence another reason that deposits in white wines appear less commonly is because many wine makers use preventative techniques in preference to alarming their customers! However, sediment can imply fine quality in both red and white wine – it suggests the wine was made to improve with age and not heavily filtered. Just decant or pour carefully to leave the dregs behind.


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