Thursday, June 18, 2009

Don't Screw my Wine

This is one of those topics that sparked interests and probably some arguments and because there's no right or wrong answers, it'll always be an endless debate on "To screw or not to screw the cork". Sounds interesting eh? I hope you don't misconstrue the word cork for cock.

For many centuries, natural corks have been used to seal the wine bottles but technology today have given us more alternatives to cork the wine. The $4 billion wine stopper industry is indeed big business considering that most do not pay more attention to a cork than the wine. Besides the use of natural cork, there's also the synthetic cork, the metal screw caps and lastly the new glass/acrylic cork.

Topic in discussion: which is better? Natural, Plastic, Metal or Glass?!!

Or have you just realised that drinking wine is really a troublesome task from choosing the labels and now the corks?!! I don't know about you but as a wine lover, I am clearly enthralled with the tradition of opening a bottle of wine with a corkscrew, listening to the pop when pulling it out and sniffing the cork. Can you even imagine that a sommelier walks over to your table with your favourite wine and unscrew the bottle cap in front of you and then pour the wine into your glasses. Just as he leaves, he whispered "Vive le screwcaps" gently into your ears. I shuddered at the thought of this. What has happened to the era of sommelier unscrewing the cork in front of me?!!

Natural Cork

Natural corks typically allow in minute traces of oxygen, which allows high-end reds to improve with age. This is good for expensive wines because these wines need to breathe! Cork is also admirably renewable, recyclable, and biodegradable. It is made from the bark of cork oak trees, which is peeled off in huge strips about once every 10 years and then grows back. A typical cork oak can continue producing usable bark for up to 200 years. The flaw: The wine can be contaminated by cork taint, leaving the wine tasting musty and dull.

Synthetic Cork

Plastic corks are cheaper than top-grade natural corks and they promised to solve the cork taint problem. However, there's also a study shown that plastic corks can taint the wine if stored more than 18 months. Plastic corks can fail, letting in air, which in turn oxidizes the wine. Scientists have shown that the long-term use of plastic corks in wine bottles leads to organic chemicals leaking into the wine, causing potential health risks.

Glass Cork

The new glass and acrylic closures provide attractive alternatives to corks and synthetic stoppers. The elegant new closure looks like a decorative decanter stopper, and it is recyclable. It also allows your wine to age standing up!

Metal Screwcap

Screwcaps are convenient and airtight. Where natural corks typically allow in minute traces of oxygen, which allows high-end reds to improve with age, screwcaps do not only prevent this from happening, they can also sometimes trap in gases given off as the wine develops over years inside the bottle, triggering a process known as "reduction," which gives the wine a sulphury smell.

Almost all wines from New Zealand and half the Aussie wines are metal screwcapped. Yes, you can say "Le cork est mort!" (The cork is dead) or throw away your wine openers or corkscrews! But cork is still the preferred closure for better wines. I have to admit, I’m not excited about this and I never like being served a bottle of wine with a metal screwcap. All I could say is that, wherever wine is quaffed, it still couldn't beat the satisfying pop of a cork compared to the crink-crank of a screw top that screwed my wine experience.

Do you also happen to know that the longer the cork, the better the wine quality? Or probably the more expensive the wine is? Therefore, when you unscrew that cork, make sure that the corkscrew goes all the way in before you pull it out to make sure that you don't spoil that cork! (Just like telling someone "if you have to screw, screw all the way in for heaven's sake!")


Hay's said...

yeah,when i drink wine, i prefer it's comes with a wooden cork, the taste of the wine is very nice and it's totally different from the wine with the metal cork.
I felt that, wine come with the wooden cork is very classic, but you still can find it though.

KY said...

I prefer my wine to come in a glass, all ready to drink. :D

-eiling- said...

Hay: I think you meant the oak cork. Yes, I also prefer the oak rather than anything else!

KY: Apalah u... so lazy.

Kimmy said...

I second that KY~ uncorked and poured into my glass, swirl it around, sniff it, taste the wine, spit it out~ ( most of the time swallowed ) and nod in acknowledgement.

mef said...


Interesting discussion topic. I heard the screwcap techonolgy has advanced and improved considerably in the last few years.

Alot of Aust and NZ wine producers are switching to screwcap. However I doubt very much the old world wine region ie. France will ever change. Especially the bordeauxs and burgundys.

I agree, why change when you've a good thing going. I'm partial to both. The experience of opening a wine bottle with a cork screw is part of enjoying wine. The slightly slower anticipation of what's in the bottle. The condition of the cork after so many years in the bottle. Also the skill to uncork properly.

However I've drank many variety of reds and whites that comes with a screwcap. No problems and thoroughly enjoying the wine too.

I reckon whether cork or screwcap, it's like horses for courses.

Philip said...

Interesting topic. I prefer natural cork...and also have the habit of collecting them.

Hay's said...

yea yea exactly that's it Oak cork. Thanks Eiling.

-eiling- said...

Kimmy: Haha... the easy way.

Mef: Great to hear from you! Yes I totally agree. Drinking wine is an experience and it starts right from opening the bottle itself! I will not be bias on wines with screwcaps but I will still prefer the oak corks anytime.

Philip: I used to do that. no more now.

Hay: No problemo

Myhorng said...

nice piece of information.

never like the metal sealing of wine. looks so low grade. pop is good. ;)

-eiling- said...

Horng: Good one!

Cork Lover said...

Interesting post. There is a lot of information on the environmental attributes of natural cork and the fight to save the Mediterranean cork forests at Check out the funny video featuring Hollywood actor Rob Schneider.

-eiling- said...

Cork Lover: I will definitely.

Anonymous said...

Great article you got here. It would be great to read something more concerning this matter. Thank you for posting this info.

eiling lim said...

Anon: thanks.

Anonymous said...

Rather nice place you've got here. Thanx for it. I like such topics and everything that is connected to this matter. I would like to read more soon.

Hilary Kuree

Wine bars in Singapore said...

The post is discussing whether to screw the wine of not and what material to use. Useful information

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