Screwcap closures have had some bad press, but in my opinion, any wine destined to be drunk within a year of production should be sold in a screwcap bottle.
What is good about screwcap bottles
- The closure does not contaminate the wine. The wine may still be corked because of contamination during wine production, but at least the screwcap won’t have caused it.
- Every bottle will be the same as the next. There are some caveats, and you should refer to a previous blog for further details. Every natural cork is different, whereas every screwcap closure is identical.
What is bad about screwcap bottles
- Removing a screwcap just doesn’t have the same theatre as removing a cork. Sadly, I can’t think of any solution to this problem.
- Production of ‘reductive’ chemicals in the wine because air is excluded. These are sulphur compounds which may be produced in the bottle because of the absence of air. These compounds disappear quickly after a bottle is opened, but can be excluded by modifying the winemaking process.
- A little bit of oxygen appears to be necessary for a wine to age gracefully. Original screwcaps allowed almost no air to reach the wine.
- Screwcaps were associated with cheap wine, so producers of quality wine tended to shy away.
- The seal in a screwcap is provided by padding at the top. Different materials are being used for this padding, which allow different amounts of oxygen to pass through. This means that they can potentially be used for ageing fine wine.
- The obvious thing is to try long term tests, and some tests were initiated in the 1980s in Australia. However, the prestigious Château Margaux in Bordeaux has started their own long term trials. Endorsement by one of the great old names in the wine business would make all the difference in the acceptance of screwcaps. Time will tell.
By choosing the correct seal, there will be screwcap closure for every wine, but it may take a while to prove the point.