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 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.
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.
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!
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!")