03 Sep Grape Tips Thursday – September 3, 2015: What’s The Deal With Wine Screw Caps and Box Wine?
This Week In Wine 101: Wine Screw Caps and Box Wine
What’s with the growing popularity of wines with screw caps and box wine? What does this say about a wine’s quality & price?
Screw Caps vs. Cork
Over the past few years we’ve witnessed a recurring debate in the wine industry with regard to screw caps. Are they a FAD, trend or the future of wine? Personally I’ve come across a plethora of strong varied opinions on the subject. The truth is we’re not all sommeliers who believe we can distinguish the differences between a bottle of wine that is topped with a natural cork or screw cap. I know I can’t tell the difference. When I purchase a wine, I want to know I’m investing my time and money in a bottle that is affordable, tastes good and is devoid of any flaws that may or may not contaminate the wine. The question still remains, why have wineries chosen to use screw caps over natural corks?
The Freshness of Corked Wine
Recent studies conducted over a course of thirty years have shown that an estimated 3 – 5 % of “natural corked” wines have been victims to cork taint. The principal cause, 2, 4 6 – Trichloroanisole, don’t worry if you can’t pronounce it. It’s also known as TCA and has resulted in a significant number of polluted wines. The culprits responsible are a combination between chloride used to sanitize the cork before it is capped on the wine and fungus found on the cork. What’s worse, the smell is one you won’t forget. It has been described as, damp or dank, musty or having a mold like stench that no longer has any resemblance of its previous fruitful qualities. TCA can affect a $15 bottle of wine or worse a $1,500.00 bottle of wine. Unlike natural corks, screw caps aren’t nearly as expensive as natural corks. But don’t let the low costs of manufacturing screw caps alter your opinion of their taste.
The use and popularity in screw tops have grown. They have proven to minimize the risk of pollutants, preserve the integrity of a wine’s flavors and aromas, while maintaining the quality. When it comes to aging, screw caps won’t disappoint either and you no longer have to worry about storing your wines in a certain position. So when you come across a wine with a screw cap, try not to judge the wine by its cover.
Beauty of the bottle vs. the box
Okay, I’ll be honest, before I knew anything about wine my girlfriends and I spent our spring break in Corpus Christy one year and devoured 3 boxes of cheap white Zinfandel. We were on a budget and weren’t looking to savor good wine and trust me we regretted it the very next day. Fast forward to several years later when I was invited to dinner at a friend’s house and was served a glass of wine from a box. You can imagine the horror I felt, I nearly fainted but my friend convinced me that this was going to be a completely different experience and pointed out my previous mistake. Thankfully, he was right, the wine was surprisingly delicious!
Believe it or not wine in boxes are making a come back. In fact, in France they sell wine in boxes and they are délicieux. While across the globe in Australia the majority of wines are sold in boxes or “casks” as they call them and the wine is very tasty. Forget the fact that it comes in a box and focus on the taste.
So, what are some benefits to buying wine in a box? Well, you don’t have to worry about cork taint, an air pump to preserve the wine once its been opened, a box of wine is equal to 2 – 3 bottles of wine and can last a month or longer. It all depends on what you select.
In conclusion, the myth of screw caps and wine in a box reflecting their quality in taste and price is false. Its true, natural corks have a higher risk of contaminates like TCA and it can taint a $15 bottle of wine and a $1,500 bottle of wine. Whereas, with screw caps they are free of this risk, preserve the quality, and do a great job of aging wine just as good as a natural cork if not better. Furthermore, wine in a box shouldn’t be confused with poor quality or cheap wine. Countries like, Australia, France and the United States offer excellent selections of wine in a box. So, try to leave those preconceived notions at the door and explore a whole new world of wine.