This is Wine Journalism?
Screwcaps blamed for tainting wine
By Richard Alleyne
Few issues divide wine drinkers more than that of the choice between corks and screwcaps.
Really?!? I can think of about a dozen issues that truly divide wine drinkers (most related to style).
Traditionalists love cork, as do environmentalists, because it is natural and has served the wine industry for hundreds of years. It also has a satisfying pop when the bottle is opened.
Right away, we can see that impartiality has gone out the window. "Satisfying pop"? And as for "has served the wine industry for hundreds of years" - doesn't this fall under the category of "we've always done it that way"? Telegram or horse-drawn buggy anyone?
Screwcaps, on the other hand, are seen as industrial, cheap and lacking the romance of the old "closure" but they have been hailed as the future because there is no danger they will spoil or "taint" the wine, a problem that is said to affect up to one in 10 corked bottles.
"Industrial" "cheap"...sounds like this is coming from the much-heralded survey sponsored by APCOR that lead off with the slightly leading question "Why don't you like screwcaps?"
However a survey by the world's biggest wine competition has added a new twist to the debate.
The tasters at this year's International Wine Challenge, discovered that while cork taint is on the decline, the problems affecting wines sealed with screwcaps have probably been underestimated.
From a blind tasting of more than 9,000 wines they discovered that 4.4 per cent of the corked wine had been tainted in some way while 2.2 per cent of the screwcapped wine had been damaged.
Hmmm....screwcaps were twice as effective, yet the title of the article is "screwcaps blamed for tainting wine". A bit misleading, no?
Faults caused by the latter are mainly a build-up of sulphides which give the wine an eggy or oniony flavour.
So these flaws were present in the wines - got that - but have we established that they were flaws caused by the screwcap or would they have been present regardless of the closure? The conclusion "caused by the latter (screwcaps)" seems like a bit of a non sequitur. Further, it has been long established that corks bring flaws to otherwise untainted wine, so screwcaps have nowhere to go but up from corks.
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.
Ah, so those with just a few years of experience with the problem have basically solved it, yet cork which has "served the wine industry for hundreds of years" is still flawed. Sounds like a short-term glitch versus a long-term problem.
Jonathan Ray, The Daily Telegraph wine correspondent, said: "In my mind screwcaps are brilliant. They have eliminated almost all cork taint but this shows they are not infallible."
As I've said before, I don't take a real stand on either side of the closure issue, but I'd like to see a fair fight from cork proponents, who just don't seem up to the task.