July 9, 2008

Screw Caps

We were discussing the unfair (in my opinion) negative bias that wines sealed with screw caps seem to receive with some friends the other night, so I was interested to see this article stating that two prominent French wineries are making the switch from cork to screw caps.  This bit had some info that was new to me:
According to recent figures, of the seven billion wines bottles sealed each year, the number using screw tops has shot up from 300 million in 2003 to 2.5 billion this year. According to the world's best-known wine critic, Robert Parker, wines bottled with corks will be in the minority by 2015.

"The cork industry has not invested in techniques that will prevent 'corked' wines afflicted with the musty, moldy, wet-basement smell that ruins up to 15 percent of all wine bottles," he wrote recently wrote. The one exception, he said, would be "great wines meant to age for 20 to 30 years that will still be primarily cork finished".
So 1/3 of all wine is now bottled with screw caps - which doesn't seem to be reflected in what I see on shelves - and 15% of the remaining 2/3 is lost to bad corkage.   I had no idea it was so high.  I wonder what percentage of that are wines left to age for 20 to 30 years and which are younger wines?  If I remember correctly the argument for corking red wines intended for long term finishing is that the cork allows the proper amount of "breathing" needed for the wines to age to maturity, but I don't see why this couldn't be simulated with screw caps.

PS - If you didn't click through to the article then you did not face the moral dilemma that I faced on whether or not to click on this article in the sidebar.  I'll leave you with this money quote as further temptation:  
Jaime Eastham, of the Bat Conservation Trust, said they had never heard of a bat being found in a bra before.

But she said the animals roost anywhere that appears dark and safe.

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