Now that we've explored the natural cork, the technical cork and the synthetic cork, it's time to address the twist-off cap. And don't you think 'twist-off' sounds so much better than 'screw cap?' The twist-off wine seal has been around for at least 20 years, but it still struggles to gain acceptance. OK, yes, it got its start on cheap bottles of wines, but does that make it a bad thing? I think not, and here's why you shouldn't either.
Have you ever been somewhere away from home with a bottle of wine only to realize you don't have a cork screw? Or, have you ever opened an older bottle of wine and experienced a crumbling cork that either came out in pieces or had to be pushed through into the bottle? These are the situations when I'm sure you'd gladly accept a twist-off cap. But more than just these occasions, the twist-off wine bottle sealer is one that should be more widely embraced in general. And leading the way on this front, the twist-off cap has been broadly embraced by greater than 90% of New Zealanders and more than 70% of Australians.
Twist-offs have gained varying levels of acceptance with the wine-buying public, and actually provide a reasonable alternative to natural cork.
Wine is 'alive' in the bottle and minute levels of oxygen are necessary for it to 'live.' It's just a matter of how much oxygen. Natural cork can and does usually lead to a slow evolution in wines by allowing tiny amounts of oxygen into the bottle. But a cork can sometimes allow too much oxygen into the bottle leading to oxidization of the wine resulting in an undesirable nutty flavor. Inside the metal twist-off cap there's an inner plastic liner that provides the seal with the bottle. This seal can actually be produced to allow a controlled level of 'breathe-ability' for wine makers. This control would seem superior to the unknowns associated with natural cork.
Others may argue that pulling a natural cork is part of enjoying a bottle of wine or that cork produces richness in texture in a bottle of wine. Maybe. But statistics show that wine frequently becomes tainted to some degree by chemical compounds found in cork. Formally known as 2,4,6-Trichloroanisole (or TCA for short), this compound can result in a wine that smells like wet cardboard, or a wet dog. Not a pleasant bouquet when trying to enjoy a glass of wine.
Today, twist-offs are especially gaining acceptance for wines that are typically opened soon after production (whites wines such as Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Rosés). And statistics show that most all wines are consumed very soon after purchase. So embrace the twist-off. It's a good thing. Cheers!
Behind the Cork™ Wine of the Week
Please Note: This feature is being moved to a separate offering that will be posted on Wednesday each week.