So as I thought about what I would write about this week and as vendors were bring wine in for me to taste, I found it a bit amusing that some of their sample were the traditional cork, and others were the screw cap...... That's it I'll write and put my two cent in on the great "Cork vs. Screw Cap" debate.
So where do you stand on the subject?
For myself I'm a traditionalist and really like a natural cork..... I look sort of funny smelling the screw cap as my waiter opens my wine selection for the evening.......... Also having collected cork screws over the years I certainly do not want natural cork to disappear altogether.
I guess I should start with the reason why the move to screw caps in the first place........ Winemakers have been using cork for hundreds centuries. Believe it or not but air and a nasty little chemical compound called TCA (or 2, 4, 6-Trichloroanisole) sparked this movement to the screw cap and this great debate.
TCA is a chemical agent that is used to sterilize the corks in preparation for bottling and traces of this chemical can remain in the cork as the wine is bottle, and some experts estimate that 5 to 10 % of the corks contain TCA..... So what is the problem, sterilization sounds good, but TCA is responsible for causing what is referred to a "Corked Wine". As a sommelier I have worked to train my palate, but let me assure you that you will have no problem identifying a "Corked Wine". By the smell and taste.........
The classic markers of a Cork Wine is a flat, moldy flavor that lacks the fruit tastes on the palate and aroma you would normally enjoyed in a wine, and generally it is that moldy cardboard smell upon opening the bottle that you just can't get away from....... "Corked Wine".
One of the other enemies of wine is air, too much leaving wine oxidized, but understand that air is a component necessary for the aging process. Another problem and leading to the movement towards the screw cap is that inconsistency from one cork to the next. The inconsistency of the porous nature of any given cork to the next may be very minuet, but as I said to much air will leave wine oxidized........
So why the screw cap it is this air tight closure that eliminates in one process the problem of air and TCA infected corks. However for me I like the romantic, dramatic presentation that one has with the century old closure of natural cork, besides what would I do with that rather extensive collection of cork screws of mine. Then there is my analytical side I not sure that there is enough research completed for us to know how that bottle of 1961 Château Cheval Blanc in Sideways would have aged with a screw cap.
I suggestion we just have some wine and think about......... I have a feeling there is no wrong answer to this question / debate...... the most important things is that we are still enjoying your favorite wines whether it has a natural cork or a screw cap.......
Gregory Hayes, cs, cwp
Sommelier - Wine Buyer
Mecenat Bistro & Gather Place
821 West Burlington Ave. Western Spring, IL.
Phone: 708-246-8668. Email: Gregory@MecenatBistro.com
Join me at Mecenat Bistro & Gathering Place on Friday and Saturday's for complimentary Wine Tastings.
Fridays 2:00 -4:00 pm, Saturdays 1:00 - 4:00 pm