Editor’s Note: In our recent effort to bring people from every wine culture together, the EWBC network has started a monthly debate on topics that effect us all. This month, the topic is alternative closures. We have asked wine bloggers from across the world to join in and publish their views on alternative closures between September 22nd through the 26th. Everyone is welcome to join in and share your thoughts. We only ask that you please post your article in the comment section of this EWBC post. Hopefully, we will gain enough participation to eventually show the power of social media!
Guess what time it is? It’s the biannual ritual of talking about closures again. This is the time of the year when we state our preference for one over another – bitching and moaning about TCA taint, reduction or sticky plastic corks. Why do we do this? Well, it’s an easy topic and usually gets people riled up, while at the same time, making us feel that we are finally standing up for something.
Here at Catavino, our thinking has evolved from an off and on hate relationship with cork to more of a friend with fringe benefits. Currently, we’re on good standing, but aren’t quite ready to exchange house keys and buy matching travel luggage. We love the idea of cork, and its sustainable properties, but we still love our screwcaps for those fresh whites and young reds. Much to our chagrin, however, we’re finding more and more plastic corks here in Spain, and only one or two screwcap wines.
So let us state for the record that WE HATE plastic corks, and if there are bodegas out there listening, DUMP THE PLASTIC and go with the SCREWCAP!! In the words of an American footwear philosopher, Just do it! It makes sense. Plus, those stupid plastic corks are just downright annoying. They’re hard to pull out, and regardless of how much you struggle and twist and tug, with all your might, when it does finally come out, you either hit yourself in the face or spill wine all over the new carpet. Not to mention the fact that you can’t make a trivet from a plastic cork. And, more importantly, the last thing this planet needs is more plastic. We will start recommending against wines that use plastic corks, simply because it’s such a dumb idea!
On the other side of the coin, cork haters, get a life. Cork taint problems are dropping. It’s a fact that almost any retailer,Ã‚Â or wine critic, can tell you. In the 80′s and 90′s, cork taint was a bigger epidemic; but today, while still an issue, it is getting better. And although we absolutely hate cork taint, we do like cork. And if a big company like Amorim can virtually eliminate taint, then it’s only a matter of time before that technology trickles down to smaller producers. That said, there will always be bad bottles. Wine is a produce item. Buy a dozen apples, and a few will have some soft spots. Buy a dozen wines, and you will inevitably have variation.
Personally, I like the idea that wine has variation. But if retailers were smart, allowing you to return or exchange a wine, the problem wouldn’t be such a big deal. Bad bottle? Stick the cork back in and return it. Can’t do that with an apple, now can you? That said, I have been known to cry out in pain and anguish after opening a tainted bottle from my cellar, which has been aging for over 20 years. In this situation, you will see me curse and cry out to the Cork Gods. But for long term aging, I have yet to see a more effective alternative to cork. If you have the research for an alternative, put it in my comments section. We are all ears!Ã‚Â (Flickr photo by emdot)
Don’t take our rant as a free pass for the cork industry! You all need to get your act together, working as a team to make sure that every producer has access to similar technologies and science. Cork tainted bottles are never blamed on the cork producer, but rather on cork as a whole. So if there is even one producer producing bad corks, you all get the raw end of the deal. Your competitive advantage of having the most “taint free corks” means shit when a competitor releases a batch of tainted ones. You lose, they lose, and your new fancy TCA eliminator machine is worthless.
Before I go, I want to list a few things that I believe to be fact and that are worthy of consideration:
- Screw caps produce a ton of pollution in their production process
- Corks will never be 100% TCA free, but can get pretty close
- Plastic cork is STUPID – Seriously, this is not even worth debating – GIVE IT UP!
- Cork boards are great for organization, and Trivets are fun to make for cheap x-mas gifts!
- Screw caps are just fine for young wines; and if they’re good enough for my 50$ vodka, they’re good enough for my $5 Tempranillo
- Corkscrews are fun to collect and even more fun to use. I seriously love opening bottles with a nice waiters corkscrew or my Languoile
- Cork forests are incredible – seriously worth visiting! If you have never been to Portugal, make a date, and then go see the cork forest. There is something absolutely magical about them.
- Cork flooring is a great way to use cork
- Screwcaps to date are pretty boring. Why not do something fun with them? Pictures on the inside? Make them collectibles
There is my rant. Comments are open, so tell me that I’m wrong! Remember, there are six more months until our next rant. Let’s see where we’re at then!