Oh, well. While I am at it….

Huzzah! A cork which screws into – and obviously, out of – a bottle.

Nice work. Did you want to make it even easier for people to switch from cork to screwcap? Because that is what you just did. Three cheers!

And if one more person mentions cork in the same sentence as romance, I might just explode. Corks in bottles are as romantic as cork-soled wedge heels. As in? Not at all.

Why do we persist in relying on a faulty closure when we know it is faulty? If we were car makers – go with me here – and we produced a vehicle which in somewhere between 5% and, let’s say, 16% of the time had faulty brakes, which we acknowledged, do you seriously think that car would be allowed into the market? Not a chance (side-eye toward VW…). Would we bottle in glass which might have cracks in it, and just accept that as normal?

And yet. Yet many in the industry persist in packaging wines of which they are presumably proud under closures which are faulty, but that is ok, because CORKS ARE ROMANTIC. You know what is not romantic? Cork tainted wine. It is feral. Unattractive, and likely to put people off buying your wine, whether they can identify it as a fault per se or not. Also not romantic? Closures which break. Or crumble apart. Or leak. But that is ok because romance trumps quality closures apparently.

For crying out loud, people. Stop being so inexcusably stubborn. Put your best foot forward. Always. And the screwcap taint argument does not work, because even if there is some degree of fault, it is generally down to damaged caps, rather than the closure itself being at fault. And even then is at a fraction of the openly acknowledged degree of cork fault.

As producers, surely we want our wine to look its best when in the consumer’s glass and palate? For some, that means cork. Because of the tiny amounts of oxygen allowed in to age the wine to best suit the wine’s given aging potential. Which the producer suggests. So surely, the producer can just amend the suggested aging potential to suit the screwcap? Because if one were to ask the expert – by whom I mean the end consumer, whose palate is the expert at what it likes – whether they would prefer a wine with a 5-16% chance of fault, or one with the infinitely more convenient, and far-less-likely-to-be-faulty closure at the potential expense of romance, you know which most are choosing?

Many consumers no longer own wine knives. Or they cannot remember where they last left it. Because they trust screwcaps, and find them more convenient. And romance gives very little fight to the concept of convenience in our world. Sad though that might be when applied to non-consumerable parts of our lives.

And a cork which screws into a bottle will not help with this concept. Mostly because it is still made out of cork.

And I do realise that I am railing against the ever shrinking minority here, but apparently these things still need to be said.

I returned home after a long day a month or so ago. Tired. Cranky. Needed the Riesling sitting in my fridge door. A gift from a houseguest. From a renowned producer. Current vintage. Dug out the wine knife, and opened the bottle. Corked. Badly. Saw the producer at an event the same week, and they graciously offered to replace the wine if I returned the bottle to the cellar door. Which is about an hour or so from where I live. I asked why they persisted in putting their Riesling (let alone others in the range) under cork, and they said, and I quote: “Because wine is all about romance, and corks are romantic!”

Fuck you cork, indeed.


2 comments on “Oh, well. While I am at it….

  1. Steve Knight says:

    I try to tell my students and colleagues a couple of things about cork.
    1. How much romance is there in serving your true love a wine that smells like musty old spuds? Don’t do it.
    2. The real problem with TCA is “dead fruit”, where low levels of the nasty stuff simply kill the wines fruit with no other observable aromas or flavours. In this case the consumer tends to blame the wine and the wine maker, with no idea of the underlying cause, and hence avoids the label, or worse still, the brand.

    Screw cap is not the ideal answer as I’ve seen TCA in bottles that have been chlorine washed and not properly rinsed, but at least that is rare. The main problem with screw cap is the ease with which the metal can be creased or dented, thus breaking the seal and leading to oxidation.. So check your bottles before purchase, and if buying in a restaurant ask the bottle to be opened at table so that you can see the state of the seal.


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