Should we be concerned about the closures on our wine bottles? Yes!

real wine corks

The Natural Cork Recycle Bin – Whole Foods

Should we be concerned about the closures on our wine bottles? Yes!

When I started drinking wine way back in the day, there were two types of wine closures, natural cork and a screw top. The screw top was found only on gallon jugs of wine or half-gallon jugs. Screw tops at that time were an indication of very cheap wine.

Today, we have five common types of wine closures. In addition to the two above, we have a plastic or synthetic plug, the Vinolok, and the agglomerated wine corks.

Wine Closures

Wine Closures

In Australia and New Zealand, the wine industry makes no excuses for using the screw tops on most of their inexpensive to high-quality wines. They have done much research and have concluded that a screw top is a much better option than any other type of wine closure.

The main reason for the alternative to natural cork is the expense of natural cork and the fact that, if the cork is imperfect, it causes cork taint in a bottle of wine. Cork taint or corked wine is not a good thing. It won’t hurt you to drink corked wine, but it will make the wine taste awful.

The main reason for using natural cork is that it allows the wine to breathe, and therefore age. Winemaker Daniel Baron, in this video, explains why cork is better than any other wine closure.

From one of Napa Valley’s winemakers on wine closures

Wine closures and health issues

I am okay with screw top closures, but the agglomerated wine cork and plastic plug are not good for the wine or our health. Glue, chemicals, and whatever else is used to make those closures might seep into the wine. Many winemakers say they alter the taste of the wine. That tells me it will also end up in the glass of wine I am drinking. No thank you! The unfortunate aspect is that the consumer cannot tell if a bottle of wine has a natural cork, an agglomerated cork, or a plastic plug. The foil on the bottle hides the closure. I would love to see the back label of the wine bottle indicate the closure type.

What do you think about the types of wine closures?

Comments

  1. James Goodman says

    Having lived for 11 years in New Zealand, a country that never uses corks, several Kiwi winemakers told me their studies had concluded that corks offered zero benefits over screwtops. I know that much of the rest of the world disagrees with that, but except for the most expensive wines it seems to me there is absolutely no contest. Screwcaps don’t get “corked.” And they’re easy to open and re-seal.

    The only negative I’ve ever found with screwcaps is that they may be compromised if the cap is compromised, which can happen when it is hit by a heavy, blunt object. I’ve only seen that happen once — I brought home a bottle that had been dinged pretty seriously, though it didn’t leak. We didn’t know how long ago that had happened, but the wine was fine.

  2. I expect natural cork on the better (i.e., more expense) wine that I buy, especially red wines that will be cellared for 5-10 years. I like a screw cap on every day wines. The convenience is nice and if it saves the winemaker a little money I am good with that too. I agree with Joe, the agglomerated wine cork and plastic plug are not good for the wine or our health. I would purposely avoid wines with either if I had that information.

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