More and more wines are coming with screwcaps instead of corks. Good.
Why you should care: A sizable minority of natural corks can introduce a nasty chemical (TCA) into the wine, giving it a musty, dirty flavor. Longer-term, corks also let in more oxygen, which causes the wine’s flavors to deteriorate. Screwcaps keep far more oxygen out, don’t inject TCA into the juice, and result in a more consistent product.
Proof? How about a taste test of the same higher-end wines, bottled at the same time, but with different closures:
The difference was shocking. With screwcap, the 2002 Chablis St. Martin (about $25; find this wine) was still a youthful, flinty Chablis without a whole lot of intrigue but solid and fresh. The cork closure for the same wine, by contrast, was older tasting with more signs of oxidation. Everyone save one person at the tasting preferred the screwcap.
So what’s stopping the global takeover of screwcaps? Tradition. A misguided impression that corks equate with quality.
Don’t buy into that. Opening a bottle of wine by turning the cap might feel like opening a Miller Lite, and you won’t get the satisfaction of a good “pop!” but you’re paying for what’s inside, after all. Get the best quality for the money, we say! — MARK ASHLEY