Curious Small Sips #7: Screwcap

Use of screwcaps (sometimes known as ‘Stelvin’, a type of screwcap first produced by Le Bouchage Mécanique in Chalon-sur-Saône, Burgundy, France) is today widespread and growing, especially for early drinking, white, non-premium or New World wines. Some countries (e.g. New Zealand) use screwcap almost exclusively. Opponents claim that these controversial closures don’t allow extended ageing of wines (something hardly anyone does these days anyway). And wines under screwcap can occasionally suffer from a fault known as ‘reduction’, characterised by a temporary, though still unwelcome aroma of stinky egg, drains and other nasty things.

Screwcaps have a lot going for them:

  1. Sterility — no possibility of infecting wines with dreaded ‘cork taint’;
  2. Price — cheaper than cork;
  3. Ease of opening — no perilous cork ‘rescue mission’ or dreaded crumbling;
  4. Precision — screwcaps can be calibrated to allow an exact level of oxygen ingress, whereas even great corks vary widely in their permeability.

Screwcaps may lack the tradition, romance and warmth of cork but, arguably, they offer a technically better, more reliable wine seal. You can decide yourself which is more important!

Image: Screwcap on the Château Bauduc Bordeaux Rosé; © Château Bauduc.

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