In last month's blog we learned about cork trees. Wine corks are made from cork oak (Quercus suber), which are native to southwest Europe and northwest Africa. The tree forms a thick layer of bark that once it reaches the right thickness is harvested and processed into wine corks, as well as many other useful items. What’s truly unique about this process is that unlike almost all other products made from trees, cork is a completely renewable resource. The harvesting of cork doesn’t damage the tree and so they are left uncut and allowed to continue to grow. Pretty cool!
Over the last few weeks we've been asked about corks vs. screw caps . . . which is better? Is there a difference? Is it all about cost? Should I be wary about buying a higher priced bottle of wine if it has a screw cap vs. a cork? Why veer from tradition?
Well, like most innovation, the answer was necessity. Since cork is only stripped in nine-year intervals, the cork companies weren’t necessarily scrambling to provide the developing areas of the wine-producing world (like New Zealand - yes this craze started in New Zealand!) with the best corks. This meant that these regions were receiving subpar corks that were more likely to produce cork taint. Not wanting their juice to taste like wet, moldy newspaper, the New Zealand wineries began using screw tops. The idea of screw tops for wine had existed since the 1970s but consumers had been slow to accept change.
So, is one better than the other, are there advantages/disadvantages for the wine using a cork or a screw top? Here's the bottom line for us. For wines that are meant to be consumed young, like whites, rosés, and fresh styles of reds (Pinot Noir, Gamay, Dolcetto, Schiava, Grenache and Carignan), screw tops are perfect because these wines don’t need to breathe. For wines that need a little age to come together (Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Pinotage, Malbec, Aglianico, Petite Sirah, Mourvedre, Sagrantino, Bordeaux, Nebbiolo and most Barbera, Merlot, Aglianico, Tempranillo, Sangiovese and Zinfandel), corks are really the only way to go for now; however, we’ve heard talk of a breathable screw top in the works.
Now, that’s not to say we're topper snobs. We're more concerned with the juice inside, not the way the wine is topped, but its helpful to know which wines should be corked vs. screw topped . . . at least for now.
il vino è vita!
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Tony Moglia's grandparents immigrated from Italy in the early 1900's. He's a dual citizen who has traveled extensively throughout Italy for 40 years. He's happily married to a vibrant dancer who together have two children and three grandchildren. Tony has dreamed of Villas of Italy since his first trip to Italy, and now he shares his dream with you.