Cork vs. Screwcap: Is One Better Than the Other?

Cork vs screwcap

When it comes to wine, the debate over closures can be as impassioned as the rivalry between Holden and Ford enthusiasts. Traditionalists champion the romance and heritage of cork closures, while modernists rally behind the convenience and reliability of screwcaps.

But just like in the automotive world, determining which is superior, especially concerning storing and ageing wine, requires a closer examination. But which is truly better, especially when it comes to storing and ageing wine? Let’s uncork the truth.

Cork: The Classic Choice

For centuries, cork has been the undisputed king of wine closures. Derived from the bark of the cork oak tree, cork possesses a natural elasticity that allows it to expand and form a tight seal within the neck of the bottle. This seal is crucial for minimising and in some cases controlling any atmospheric oxygen ingress, however there is quite a debate around cork ‘breathing’. Cork can also hold a small amount of oxygen that eventually is released, interacting with the wine, aiding in its development and ageing process.

Advocates of cork closures often cite tradition and romance as reasons for their preference. There’s an undeniable pleasure in the ritual of carefully extracting a cork, the satisfying pop as it leaves the bottle, and the faint aroma when it’s removed.

However, cork closures come with their drawbacks. Cork taint, caused by a compound called 2,4,6-Trichloroanisole, can impart musty, mouldy flavours to the wine, ruining the drinking experience. Corks can also degrade over time, leading to oxidation and leakage if not stored properly. These flaws in design led to its decline, especially in Australia .

Screwcap: The Modern Solution

Enter the screwcap, a closure that’s been gaining traction in recent years. It’s especially widely used in Australia. Since the early 2000’s, 99 bottles out of every 100 produced in Australian wineries are sealed with a screwcap closure.

Made from aluminium or plastic, screwcaps provide an airtight seal that effectively prevents oxidation and cork taint. They’re also more convenient for consumers and sommeliers alike, eliminating the need for a corkscrew and ensuring a quick, consistent opening experience every time.

Fans of screwcaps argue that they offer superior protection against external factors such as humidity and temperature fluctuations, making them ideal for long-term storage and ageing. Unlike cork closures, screwcaps don’t deteriorate over time, ensuring that the wine inside remains pristine until it’s ready to be enjoyed.

So, what’s the argument against screwcaps? Well, some critics argue that they lack the ability to allow for controlled oxygen exchange, which can hinder the ageing process, particularly for certain red wines meant to develop complexity over time.

Cork vs screwcapThe Verdict: It Depends

So, which closure is truly superior when it comes to storing and ageing wine? The answer, as with many things in the world of wine, is that it depends.

Sorry for the not-so-definitive answer, but it’s true.

For wines meant to be consumed young and fresh, particularly whites and lighter reds, screwcaps offer undeniable advantages in terms of consistency and protection against spoilage. However, for wines intended for long-term ageing and development, such as fine Bordeaux or Barolo, cork closures still reign supreme, thanks to their ability to facilitate controlled oxygen exchange.

Ultimately, the choice between cork and screwcap comes down to personal preference, as well as the specific characteristics of the wine in question. Whether you’re a traditionalist who savours the romance of uncorking a bottle or a modernist who values convenience and consistency, in the end, the most important thing is to enjoy the wine in your glass! Cheers to that!

We designed cellartags to suit any bottle. Whether you choose cork or screwcap, you can feel confident that cellartags will sit comfortably on your bottle, in a wine rack, and in your cellar.
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