Wine Tainting Screwcaps?

I’ve been an advocate of alternative closures (non-cork closures) for wine for quite some time. Simply, I think quality control is paramount.

That said, I was taken aback by a headline in The Telegraph that read: "SCREWCAPS BLAMED FOR TAINTING WINE".

Given the rather intense war of words and advertising between the cork producers and pushers of alternative closures, the headline must give the cork advocates something tasting to gnaw on.

The crux of the article is that at the International Wine Challenge in England tasters found that 2.2% of the screwcap closed wines were tainted in some way. The culprit was found to be a "build-up of sulphides which give the wine an eggy or oniony flavour."

And yet, way down deep near the end of the article we find this nugget, a nugget I suspect the Cork producers wish they could have claimed:

"Sam Harrop, a wine-maker who co-chaired the tasting, said that the
problem with screwcaps appeared to be related to their greater
efficiency as a seal and that companies who had been using them for a
long time had all but eradicated the problem."

I wonder if there was another headline that might have more accurately assessed the discoveries of the tasters at the International wine challenge?


6 Responses

  1. Alfonso Cevola - September 19, 2006

    I’m a fan of screwcaps…however in a recent tasting a about 80 or so wines, with corks and with screwcaps, I found quite a large number of screwcap wines that tasted odd, about 6. The overall taste was metallic, sour and a bit sulfury…They were inexpensive wines, so the overall quality might have had something to do with it. So I am a little more sceptical of the lower end (under 10.00) when I seek wines out these days.
    Will just have to stick with a good Meursault from Thierry and Pascale Matrot…Until a good Italian wine comes around in said enclosure…

  2. Eric Cook - September 20, 2006

    “Tainted”? What a perspective! Of course the wines taste different with a screwcap closure, the nature of good wine is that it reflects its provenance. If screwcap is part of that history then the taste of the wine will be affected. Do you LIKE the difference? Sometimes, I do. Other times, with wines that have been aged for more than 5-6 years under screwcap, it’s “funky”, or just different in its development than a cork closed bottle. Vive la difference!

  3. Julian - September 23, 2006

    Because I’m English, it comes as no surprise to find the Telegraph drawing its readers’ attention to the article in this emotive way. The stereotype of the Telegraph reader must still be very close to the fact. Odd, when the number of Wodehousian, clubbable, beetroot-faced ex-military men is surely so much diminished in these times. Or perhaps I’m out of touch, and there’s a whole new anonymous stratum of readers who need sensational headlines with a reactionary veneer to splutter about.

  4. H. B. Herr - September 23, 2006

    While I cannot cite chapter and verse – at several recent tastings – particularly with New Zealand producers – the word was that all screwcaps are not created equal – and that over time – some are proving not to be 100% inert – sort of like the CD which was originally marketed as “scratchproof” –

  5. Marcus - September 24, 2006

    There seems to be some confusion on the taint issue. Media spin perhaps but I’m linking to Jaime Goode’s last post to cut to the heart of matters.

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