Have you ever noticed how many times things have changed in the world you live in? Just when you get comfortable, along comes a new invention or technique that we have to adjust to. Wine bottle closures are no exception.
As early as 500 B.C.cork was used as a wine jug stopper in ancient Greece. Since the 18th century, cork has been the preferred choice, following Dom Perignon’s success in bottling champagne. The secret to the success of cork: the airtight seal.
The most traditional closure, cork, has one disadvantage: the possibility of a bottle of wine to be corked. A corked bottle has a musty smell and taste. Cork, which is a natural product made from the bark of a tree, is prone to developing mold. The mold creates a chemical infection known as TCA, or cork taint. The wine results in a flat fruitless flavor and aroma. There are a small percentage of wines that are corked. So, why not use alternative closures? Mainly, because alternative closures diminish the drama and romance of opening a bottle with a cork. Also, many traditionalists feel the cork has some involvement in how the wine tastes, evolves, ages.
Cork comes from the bark of the cork oak tree. These trees live approximately 200 years. Once a tree is 25 years old the cork is stripped from the trunks every nine years. The first two harvests produce poor quality cork. Portugal produces approximately 50% of the cork harvested annually worldwide.
Synthetic corks are made from plastic. It has been determined these corks work best on wines that are meant to be drunk young and not to be cellared. They, as well as the screw cap (Stelvin) are used on the lower to medium priced wines in most cases.
Stelvin closures or screw cap closures are made of aluminum sides and top. Inside the top is a polyethylene liner covered with a special tin foil. The Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) found screw tops are the best at preserving wine.
Glass closures are equipped with an inert o-ring to provide a sterile seal, preventing contamination or oxidation.
OK……Here’s the newest change in wine bottle closures. The Zork closure. This was invented in Australia, featuring the convenience of a screw cap and the “celebration” of a cork, without the corkscrew. You remove the tear tab to break the seal and pull out the Zork which “pops” like a cork and can easily be resealed after use.
Personally, the type of closure wouldn’t influence me when buying wine. It’s all up to you!
–Marie Griffin, Wine Supervisor, North/West Florida