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Which is the best closure for a wine bottle – Screw cap or cork?

An international debate has been going on for many years about which is the best closure for a wine bottle.  Why do so many wines from countries such as New Zealand, Australia, California, South Africa, Chile and Argentina have screwcaps?  In the current range of wines in TheWinePlace.es Discovery Selection more than half of the wines have a screwcap closure.
Nowadays many Spanish wineries will use two types of bottle closures when bottling their winestraditional cork for the national market and screw cap for export.  In many important export markets for Spanish wines, notably Scandinavia, United States,  consumers prefer screwcaps.
So why are screwcaps so popular? First and foremost is that there are fewer problems with screwcapped wines than with corks:
  • Taint free           – no risk of  ‘cork’ taste which effect at least 10% of all wines
  • Consistent          – there is more variation between bottles of the same wine with a cork closure
  • Very convenient  – no corkscrew required and the bottle can be resealed easily.
Screw cap of cork closure. Thanks to www.cellarit.com.au for image

Screw cap of cork closure. Thanks to www.cellarit.com.au for image

The debate becomes more interesting with the issue of ageing wines.  For example you are not going to find a Rioja Gran Reserva with a screwcap.  Over a period of time cork allows oxygen transmission, different natural corks will effect the same wine in different ways resulting in variation in quality.
Over a longer period of time, three to four years, bottled wines with screwcap can have problems with reduction, this will be apparent with the wine having a smell of rotting eggs or an old fart! – not very nice.  It generally goes away if the wine is decanted.
Ultimately it is down to choice. What do you think? Do you have a preference between cork and screwcap?
 (thanks to www.cellarit.com.au and www.seriouseats.com for images)
Written by

I am a Northern Irishman based in Valencia. My career in wine began more than three decades ago, in London. I am the founder of TheWinePlace.es, an online store, where wine enthusiasts can enjoy a selection of international wines and Verde Marte, a company dedicated to exporting Spanish wines. Also, Thewineplace.courses, an "approved program provider" of the courses of the prestigious WSET. I share my passion for wines through my media work writing weekly columns for the Spanish newspaper El Mundo and 5 Barricas, an online wine magazine.

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