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WineRelease.com's July 2009 Wine Closure Survey Results (published August 16, 2009)


430 WineRelease subscribers and 135 winery trades people participated in our Wine Closure survey. Below are the results (Some responses do not add up to 100% as some skipped questions).

We know the "cork" vs "screw cap" question has been asked, but we wanted to go a step further and ask the question by "ageable" vs "drink now" wine... and the results are different. We also compare consumer vs trade responses. A few folks commented about the "bag in box" option, thinking it was a joke, but it was not. I was in a wine shop in France in 2001 and they were selling bulk wine from vats. I purchased a 5 liter "bag in box" Syrah for $12 and it was a tasty wine and incredible value. I always thought it would be a great way to purchase and drink wine. The bag shrinks as the wine is poured so oxidation occurs very slowly, keeping the wine fresh. Survey responses below.


TCA taint percentage chart.
WineRelease Comments - The trade believe corked bottles are rare compared to consumers.

Consumer verbatim comments:
  • % will be determined but the sensitivity of the taster to TCA. Also by the degree or lack of knowledge of the taster. 5
  • ...much more wine is affected than regular folks think.
  • And, going down. In last few years have found the TCA issue to be lessening.
  • Based off my own experience with the wines in my cellar.
  • Based on my experience over the past 8-10 years of serious wine consumption, approx. 5 in every 100 bottles are corked. I may just be very lucky.
  • Based on my own experience and recall over about 50 years of wine drinking.
  • everything should go to screw cap except age worthy reds
  • For some reason, I don't detect TCA very well.
  • French wine more than any others.
  • gut feeling it's 5% or lower. is anybody doing any real stats?
  • higher % in imports.
  • How many hundreds of years have natural corks been in use? Why now is TCA such an issue?
  • I am in favor of doing all that can be done to preserve wine quality.
  • I am opening some mid 90's Columbia Winery reds and I am finding that about 25% are undrinkable. What a shame, Otis Cabs and Red Willow Syrahs.
  • I am very sensitive to TCA
  • I base this only on personal experience from my own collection.
  • I believe it's about 5% from what I've read. I wouldn't be able to accurately site the correct fact re. this issue if I was solely basing it on personal experience.
  • I believe that in 30 years of drinking wine I have only had one that was spoiled by a bad cork.
  • I buy and hold wines to drink 10-15 years down the road. It is a huge disappointment (and financial hit) to finally open a great bottle, and find out its corked!
  • I don't know if I can detect that taint, but I think I may have and not realized it
  • I doubt that it's as high as Jim Laube thinks.
  • I go to professional tastings often and have been for years. I can say that I've only noticed the effects of TCA fewer than 10 times so I'm rolling with a percent even less than 1. Wines have DEFINITELY improved in quality with regards to TCA, bretts, VA, etc.
  • I have a cellar of about 300+ bottles and have had a very, very few (<1%) that were affected.
  • I know what the statistics say....but I think it's higher.
  • I lay my wine down for moderate periods, 2 - 7 years.
  • I only rarely experience this problem.
  • I really don't know. This is just a guess.
  • I see it less often than I used to.
  • I seems to me that the amount of wine affected with TCA has gone down a lot in the last 10 years.
  • I still like pulling corks instead of screw off
  • I think 7-9% of bottles sealed with natural cork seem to have at least some degree of cork taint.
  • I think I have been lucky. I also might mistake it for "brett" at times if it is mild.
  • I think most wine drinkers don't even know what TCA is and/or how it affects wine.
  • I thought the percentage was 5-8% per some scientific study, but never-the-less, it is significant. I have no personal knowledge of the figures.
  • I would think much less than 1% - maybe 1 or 2 bottles out of a thousand.
  • I'd say about 1/20 are affected but the degree of TCA varies. Most I've come across are very mild and can be tolerated, while only the occasional one (maybe 1/100) is rendered undrinkable. I think I've been lucky though.
  • I'm 30 years in wine retail; I've tasted about 5000 wines a year for most of that time. TCA taint percentage has grown from 2-3% to about 10% in my samples over this time.
  • I'm a somm @ a WS Grand Award cellar who opens thousands of bottles a year and I'm getting over 10% affected by TCA from ALL REGIONS & ALL PRICE POINTS. Totally unacceptable.
  • In my experience with drinking ~250 bottles a year, 4-6% is about the affected percentage.
  • In my opinion, most wine consumers do not know what TCA is and can not identify it. Ergo, the percent of wine that is affected is unknown. Do "value wine" producers even care? Probably not.
  • In years past I have found a higher incidence of TCA... in 2008-2009 much lower amounts thus far
  • It (the percentage) is going to vary with winery, as some put much more time/attention into doing quality control on cork batches than others.
  • It also depends on the winery and the corks they are using, for example, cellar #8 cab is always consistent, where the merlot seems to be a 50/50 shot at getting one that isn't off.
  • It is very rare for me to an issue with this.
  • it really depends the quality of the cork.
  • It seems to be trending downwards, from tracking at wine competitions over several years. the cork industry is paying more attention, thank goodness.
  • It varies, and seems like I find more TCA affected wines/corks with old world wines. Perhaps I am not as sensitive to it with new world, young vintage wines. However, I have found my fair share of new vintage wines w/cork taint, but more so from European vintages from 5-10++ year old wines.
  • it would be substantially higher, but I assume that 90 % of wine drinkers are incapable to discerning flawed wine
  • It's probably due to a lack of experience on my part, but I've never had a wine that I thought was corked. I wish that someone could give me a sample and say, "That's corked." Then I'd know what to look for. Otherwise, I'm on the lookout for wet newspaper, but I haven't found any yet!
  • I've had very few encounters with what I felt was a "corked" wine
  • Less than one percent. More like 0.4%
  • Little experience with corked wines. I've only has 2 and it was really obvious when they were corked.
  • Maybe 4%, but I'll bet 2% of that is never enough to affect the wine, so that means really only 2% that is of any significance.
  • maybe less lately - was a bigger problem 6-7 years ago.
  • Maybe my taste buds aren't well developed, but I can say that I have knowingly identified only 5-6 bottles of "corked" wine.
  • most consumers can't tell if it is tainted unless it is really bad
  • mostly in pinot and burgundy. not much in the cabs.
  • My personal history is about 5% suspected TCA tainted wines but I don't believe I am as sensitive as some people to TCA.
  • Never had a bad bottle yet.
  • Not all TCA in wine is from cork closure.
  • Not enough experience with corked wine
  • On the rare occasions I have encountered it, the wines have been older with a soft cork 90%+ saturated.
  • only experienced it a few times
  • Recent improvements to cork sanitation have provided less susceptibility to taint
  • Screw cap is the best.
  • screw cap or synthetic is used to avoid the "perception" of cork taint when it really isn't as big a deal as is being made out
  • Seems like more, but this is my best estimate. Another interesting question might be which country's wines are most affected. Italy and Spain, in my opinion, but that might also reflect a bias in my drinking pattern as I favor wines from Italy.
  • Sensitivity varies a lot. I barely notice it, wife is very sensitive to it.
  • Sometimes, the taint is just slight, and if you don't know if it's tainted, it's hard to tell if it's tainted or just not very good
  • Taint rate is decreasing
  • That is not the first reason they use screw caps. It is to save money.
  • The better wines (more expensive who use high quality corks are less susceptible to TCA ir Brett
  • There has been a lot less tainted bottles since action was taken by the Portuguese cork industry
  • They say bad things come in threes and I've kind of found this to be the case with TCA. I'll go a couple months without a tainted bottle, then have several in a matter of one or two weeks. That makes it a bit difficult to measure accurately the percentage, but my best guess would be between 5 and 8 percent.
  • This has been my experience after 35 years of wine cellaring and drinking.
  • This is a rise from the industry average of 3 to 5% when I started in the business 20 years ago, although some wine producers quote higher instances.
  • This is a sad state that wineries allow that percentage of their wines to go out 'altered'. Anyone that does not know a particular winery and gets a bad one will damn the winery. You would NEVER have these standards in a restaurant, video store, shoe store - it would destroy their credibility with their customers. Only the general lack of knowledge about wine and US customers insecurities allow this slipshod standard to survive.
  • This remains consistent with us and our friends.
  • to the level of any significance
  • tradition supersedes any explanation
  • Truly a guess -- I have not knowingly encountered a bottle
  • Under 1%, really
  • Varies in degree and sometimes will pass making the wine acceptable
  • We seem to get spoiled bottles in clusters. We'll go months with no problems, then have several in just a few weeks. Don't ask me to explain it. Nothing is worse than having to pour an expensive bottle down the drain.
  • Well-sourced corks not subjected to some "magic treatments" have sub-1% TCA
  • What does "affected" mean? A lab can detect or I can detect? I can't detect it in very high concentration.
  • Whatever the correct figure is, I have to wonder if it is determined by chemical analysis or by sensory perception. I'm guessing there is a lot of TCA that goes unnoticed by not just consumers but producers, too. That's not necessarily a bad thing.
  • Why is the answer I really do not know but I hate the synthetic cork and screw cap!
  • Worked as head sommelier in a high-end restaurant ($3+mm in wine sales/ year), and our average was 10-12%
  • Years ago, cork taint was rarely a problem. It is today. I wish every winery would bottle their wine with either a synthetic cork or a screw cap. I have never had a bad bottle of wine from those wineries that have changed.
Trade verbatim comments:
  • 1% or less with 25Ę+ corks.
  • As a percentage of wine with a natural cork.
  • Cork price is important here.
  • for me it's less than 1%. biggest problem is wineries using pour quality corks.
  • I have had tainted wined from bottles with synthetic closures. Synthetic corks are sometimes shipped in contaminated containers and pick up tca.
  • In the past 11 years, I've only had three bottles that exhibited TCA.
  • It depends on the grade cork you are using. Higher grade cork supposedly gives a less chance for wines to have TCA.
  • It should be on the decline. Purging techniques have been developed
  • It's improved compared to ten years ago. The rate of incidence continues to be unacceptable!
  • It's more like .5% - in my opinion/experience
  • Lately, I have not opened a corked bottle since an event, and that's when we open cases of wine so you're odds are you're gonna open one.
  • Most of which are "composite" corks
  • My input is limited to my tasting experience. My wines have only have had a few bottles with TCA out of several thousand.
  • not worth the risk
  • Ours is affected even less than the lowest proffered selection. I believe it is higher for other wineries which exercise less care in QC.
  • speaking of our wines
  • Sub-threshold cork taint must be included in this assessment, thus the higher percentage.
  • TCA percentages seem to fluctuate by the batch of corks. Some vintages of our wines have had little to no cork taint while other vintages have had higher instances than normal.
  • The use of a screw cap does not prevent TCA.
  • This is our rate of occurrence
  • This was when the problem was ignored by the cork producers. We have lower % now.
  • We have an amazing cork supplier and experience less that 1 - 3%.
  • We have very few problems. A lot has to do with the cork supplier and their process of cork testing for evidence of TCA.
  • Wine is an experience as much as a beverage. Wineries who buy cheap quality Natural Cork and expect it to hold are fooling themselves, or looking for a way to cheapen the wine and the experience.
  • Wine can have TCA without contact with cork.
  • Wish I knew. Any industry wide test results? Winemakers say big%, salespeople say very very small. In our business, not much is said or paid (refunded) for bad bottles.


Closure preferences for drinkable now vs ageable wines.

WineRelease Comments - Natural cork is the preferred choice for wines that are to be cellared for both consumers and trade. For "drinkable now" wine, consumers prefer screw caps while the trade are split between screw cap and natural cork.

Consumer verbatim comments:
  • "Prefer" is the wrong word, since it implies one answer -- one preferred answer.
  • Again, only using my experience I can say I've had crappy wines in all-of-the-above closures and awesome wines.
  • An inexpensive wine either white or red that is meant to be drunk within a couple of years should have a syn or screw-cap closure. Wine meant to be layed down for 3+ years might need natural cork to breathe.
  • and the new patent protected "Diam" cork from oeneoclosures is guaranteed TCA-free. But TCA can come from more than the cork - even the barrels coming from France can be infected by the floor boards in the container ship.
  • Any are OK, Bag is OK if you want a lot of the wine.
  • Any wine, white or red, that is produced to be consumed within 1-2 years should come in Stelvin enclosures. Or with a crown cap. Cork does better with wines designed to age. It's the wine industry's own fault that people with minimal knowledge rigidly cling to ideas without facing the reality of what the wine industry is today: a commodities producer.
  • Bag-in-box? You're kidding, right? I'm fine with synthetic corks for most whites and roses. I probably prefer natural cork in my chardonnays since I tend to age them longer.
  • Enclosure has minor impact on my selection although most of my purchases are natural cork.
  • ever tried to cut off a screw cap by mistake?
  • For "Old World" styles, both white and red; the natural cork is my preferred closure. The winemakers have for centuries been using this method, and I believe have worked around/with a bit of air exchange between the wine and the outside. For "New World" wines, meant to be drunk younger with more fruit forwardness I tend to think toward artificial closures as they do a better job of maintaining the wine's seclusion from the air around it.
  • For a 'ready now' youthful wine, synthetics are okay - but they are harder to open than screw tops/Stelvin, bag-in-box is the best, but it has too short a life, natural cork may destroy the wine before it gets off of the bottling line.
  • for non-aged whites/reds screw cap or synthetic is acceptable
  • Given the increasing scarcity of natural cork, it's a waste to use it for wines that don't need (and shouldn't have) aging. I'm not a fan of synthetic cork - given the long contact with an acidic liquid (wine) - what substances (BPA, Phthlalates etc) might be leaching into my wine?? On that note, the lining of screw caps may be suspect too, but I tend to store those vertically. I'm a big fan of crown caps for whites (especially if a little fizz is present as in a vino verde)
  • Glass stoppers are interesting too
  • I absolutely hate the plastic "corks", and found it odd that you didn't include them in the survey. As the "corked" wines are not dominant in the field of wine, I don't care if producers wish to incur the losses by continuing to use them, although I find it curious. I think Stelvin closures are the best. I think that Bag-in-box are good packaging, but I don't drink boxed wines.
  • I admit I am a wine snob. I don't buy any wines under $35.00
  • I also prefer glass corks/vinolok
  • I am general preferring screw caps on all wines. Especially whites in the summer.
  • I can't get past it, I just prefer natural cork
  • I care about the quality and taste of the wine, not tradition. Screw Cap is the best regardless how long the wine is kept!
  • I detest synthetic corks. They do nothing for the wine and are hard to pull. Good screw caps seem to work okay.
  • I disagree with the presumption that most red wines are recommended to be aged before drinking. The vast majority are made to be consumed within a couple of years, and that doesn't qualify as "aging" for me. For those wines, I prefer screw tops.
  • I do not believe it is as critical for whites
  • I don't care
  • I Like the glass closures that they use in Germany instead of Stelvin ...
  • I say I don't care about natural cork in wines to be aged, but that presupposes a willingness to lose 10%+ of my wine over time.
  • I still want my Sine Qua Non in unique bottles with creative labels, but I want my Shafer Hillside in a box so I can drink a glass whenever I want without having to drink the whole bottle.
  • I think screw caps -- even on premium-priced pinots -- tell consumers to enjoy this wine while the fruit is still fresh rather than lay it away and potentially miss out on the wine's best qualities.
  • I would never drink wine out of a box so I don't care what the enclosure would be.
  • I'm fine with cork for aging IF ITS OF GOOD QUALITY!
  • Image is a critical component here. Also I have found glass stoppers to be less reliable at maintaining freshness.
  • it's easy, it's simple and it's pretty much fool proof.
  • I've pulled thousands of corks. Though it isn't difficult, I'm getting lazy enough to prefer screw caps in this circumstance.
  • I've purchase some wines with what appears to be a glass decanted top with a small O ring. I prefer this style to screw caps.
  • Jeannie Port reported in a very interesting article in the Melbourne Age the results of a 20 year study. The results show that for aging you need real cork. Another interesting point was that the Synthetic Cork was inferior to any other closure method.
  • Less important with white wines
  • more willing to use non-cork alternatives for wines that are consumed earlier on; would not prefer them for white burgundies that are capable of aging longer
  • My regard is for quality. Whatever is best to secure quality until it is consumed is best at the lowest cost.
  • Natural cork does allow for oxygen to enter the wine, and the oxidation is a major part of the wines aging process. Without it, the ageing process is much less predictable
  • Need to make a distinction between aromatic whites that typically don't age, and Burgundies that do. I would say all aromatic whites benefit from screw cap: cheap, non-oaked Chard does also. More complex age-worthy Chardonnays should have corks. I assume you include composite corks in the category of "synthetic cork?" Do you also mean to include plastic in this category? You might want to consider expanding the choices in your next survey.
  • Obviously I don't want to be pulling a box of wine out when it's supposed to be an "exquisite" white. But I don't want to pay a fortune for a corked wine, either.
  • Preserve the cork forest ecosystems!
  • Recycling cork is possible, but aluminum and tin recycling, including fabrication of the liner, remains a problem. And the mining of the metals and the fabrication of caps is a dirty, energy intensive process.
  • Save the corks for the wines that are built for them.
  • Screw caps have fewer failure modes than corks, and I don't keep wine for years. I have several cases on hand at any given time, all with the intention of being consumed in the next year or two.
  • Screw caps or real corks (and natural corks, not composites of cork dust and glue)
  • Screwcap is clearly reductive. I like that for white wines I want to stay crisp. Having seen airtight closures _obviously_ stunt the growth/aging of nice red wines, I don't want to see screw cap anywhere _near_ ageworthy reds.
  • see above
  • Slightly prefer screw cap over natural cork
  • Some synthetic corks can be hard to get out.
  • Still not sure about screw caps and aging - just not enough experience or data... Haven't had Bag-in-Box wines
  • Still prefer natural cork.
  • Synthetic corks (especially on chilled bottles) are difficult to open.
  • Synthetic corks kill cork pullers quickly, and I just can't get over the image of wines in a box. Sad, I know.
  • The ageable red question is tough. Does it really need add'l O2 (beyond ullage), or not? Don't know.
  • The screw caps are very difficult to remove.
  • The study done with aged Bordeaux started in the mid 80's, showed a distinct difference in the aging outcomes with different closures. Cork is still the preferable closure for aging
  • There is just something about pulling the cork on a bottle of wine, it just feels right as part of the process. However, having lost some wine due to tainted corks synthetic corks may just be the way to go. This is especially true with red wine. Screw caps would be more acceptable with white wines than red.
  • There's good things to say about corks, most of it emotionally based or maintaining tradition....and I'm not saying this is "bad". From a consumer preference standpoint I have no problem with all wine producers moving over to screw caps, which is what they want to do to save money. Obviously the issue raised by them is spoilage, but generally it's not a major factor considered when financial liability is factored into the profit statement for a winery vs. the money saving over the long haul when moving to caps. Spoilage due to leaky corks then pretty much becomes a non-issue. I don't see much downside in that except for economic devastation to the cork producing industry. IF aging is affected, stay w/cork.
  • Yes, although I'm from the "old school", I now feel that the screw cap is the best way to store and age wine.
  • You left out glass stoppers.
  • You left out Tetrapak (box, but not bag-in-box) and Zork.
Trade verbatim comments:
  • Definite preference on most white wines and some early drinking reds is for a screw cap, but still prefer natural cork for any long-term aging.
  • depends on price point. I wouldn't consider a screw wine above $20.
  • Environmental and potential health impacts of moving to synthetic cork and BIB are rarely discussed.
  • Glass closures work well for young reds/whites as well.
  • Have you read the life cycle analysis on alternative closures? The carbon footprint they leave is huge!
  • I avoid wines that I know are bottled with synthetic corks. Many inconsistent wine experiences. That could reflect on the wine producer though?
  • I typically don't even consider any bag-in-the-box wines as premium wines. This MAY change, but not at this time, in my estimation.
  • I would like to use the bag in box but the public perception precludes charging enough to pay.
  • I would prefer screw caps on wines under $35.00. Wines in that price range would not have a high end cork, there for a much higher chance of cork taint.
  • In theory, the bag in the box should be the best system, especially for those who do not want to drink an entire bottle. However, it practice, I believe plastics give off an undesirable odor.
  • Jury is still out on screw caps over the long term; looks like their best for wines best drunk young
  • Most all manufacturers are going away from plastic for things like baby bottles---one sees more and more metal being offered at REI, etc. to carry water in---so why is our industry still following the plastic path? Talk about the wrong message.
  • One category is missing. The DIAM cork from OENEO is another kind. Check it out! Love it! We are now 100% DIAM customers.
  • Screw caps are great for all wines. Does cork actually "breath", thereby benefiting the wine via controlled oxygenation? I think it does, and that corks are ultimately preferable (Capricorn traditionalist!). I think that bottling the same top quality red wine in both over 20 years will tell the tale.
  • Screw tops seem to be fine for soon-to-drink whites. I do not like synthetic corks and have had two very bad experiences using them. For two years our Chardonnay lasted for 18 months and then went South. Now I use natural cork for everything.
  • Screwcap edges out nomacorc in this category for two reasons. 1) easier to open and 2) gives more flexibility in allowing one to age the bottle longer if desired Any synthetic other than nomacorc or vinloc is unreliable in my experience.
  • Surprised you didn't include the Vino Lok glass stopper? I like that one for white wines.
  • The notion that corks allow wines to "breathe" is a myth. None of these closures creates a hermetic seal. Screw caps are the tightest, natural cork is in the middle and synthetics are the weakest as far as oxygen ingress/egress.
  • The problem with screw cap is excessive danger of wine reduction. Not an issue with white wine that will not be aged.
  • we still use cork for our best cabs.....
  • Wine is tradition, Cork is tradition.


Wine closure statements.
WineRelease Comments - Romance is still a reason for preferring natural cork. Consumers don't care about renewable/non-renewable material, the trade do care. Most consumers and trade do not associate screw caps with cheap wine nor do they believe screw capped wines taste 'sulphury'. Most consumers and trade believe cork taint occurs less now than in the past. Consumer believe bottle variation to be more of a problem, the trade do not. All believe wine needs to 'breathe' to age.

Consumer verbatim comments:
  • Aluminum, out which most screw tops are made, is as renewable (recyclable) as cork.
  • Assumed "breathing" question (last one) was a given....breathing necessary for aging
  • Better winemaking and non-traditional closures are two different things.
  • bottle aging is an anaerobic process where reduction occurs due to loss of oxygen molecules
  • Bottle variation is "difference" and TCA is Draino In my experience cork taint has remained pretty steady Breathe to age is beyond my experience - haven't had any "old" wines with screw caps to taste against I've heard that screw caps keep wines fresher but not direct experience - same with sulphury... Most of my "don't care" are really - "insufficient data"
  • Bottle variation is huge, but TCA just completely ruins the wine.
  • Corks do not allow air into bottles
  • Even though corks are made from renewable material, there is not an unlimited supply. So I like the idea of synthetic corks on wines I'm going to drink soon so as to not overharvest the cork forests.
  • Everything debatable
  • From what I've read, screw caps will allow wines to breathe, but at a much slower rate than corks.
  • Glass is renewable, reusable and recyclable.
  • I currently lean towards the "breathing" argument not being real, but continue to listen to the experiments that some wineries are doing to see how their wines do age with screw tops.
  • I do not know what you mean by bottle variation.
  • i haVE NO LONG TERM experience
  • I haven't had enough screw cap wine that is old to really know the effects of them on aging
  • I like screw caps because it makes the open bottle so portable- i.e- decanting before an OL.
  • I may have misunderstood the first statement. Bottle variation may be more widespread than cork taint, but I view it as less problematic (I can still drink the wine).
  • I run a retail store with a tasting bar, I have opened many bottles, a lot of them being the same kind over a long period of time. For example, 2005 boarding pass shiraz, It has evolved in a very impressive way, even with a screw cap, and is as consistent as you can get, probably opened 36 bottles of it over 12 months. also the 2006 Torbreck woodcutter shiraz, the change in complexity was unreal over a 6 month period of time. These are just 2 examples of the many I could talk about. I open about 100-150 bottles a month, Have only had about 5-6 bottles that were corked, other than that I notice some wines being inconsistent with the quality, but is expected from extreme mass produced wines
  • I think the breathing happens after you open and pour, right?
  • If a wine needs to age to be drinkable, it must not have been very good in the first place. Let it breathe in the glass.
  • I'm still waiting for wines that aren't ready to drink before I really have an opinion.
  • In its perfect form, a cork is allows wine to age in an anerobic environment, so the argument that screw caps don't breathe is hogwash - they don't need to! I do think there is a significant over-sulpher problem amongst those who bottle in screw cap and this needs to be addressed.
  • Jury is till out on the last question.
  • Most of these are rumors, wines age fine with screw caps. While the 'romance/tradition' may be missed, that and 'breathe', 'renewable', are just smoke and mirrors that winemakers use to cover for their poor decision about closures. Do you want to get your medications from a Pharmacist in a corked bottle?
  • Not all wines need to age. Most are ready to drink immediately.
  • Not for this question but for #6 Bottle variation is has more the TCA but that's a good and normal thing each blt has its own life and evolution...
  • not sulphury perhaps, but flaws in a wine can be "showcased' due to the nature of screw caps, and there is also the possibility of reduction.
  • Not sure about the breathing vs. screw cap issue. Seems like I read that the breathing issue is a small one, and that the experts agree that the Stelvin closure is the best overall.
  • Not sure about the last one. I think the jury is still out on that. More research is needed. Also, there is a place in this world for both screw-caps and quality corks.
  • Our TCA testing experiments revealed that there is NO permeability or other aging benefit to natural corks.
  • premature, no research to determine if screw cap[s keep wine fresher longer
  • Questions/options seem a bit simplistic
  • Re. question #2 above: gut feeling is that 20-30 years ago TCA was not as bad as approx. 5-yrs ago, but that cork quality has recovered (partially) from that nadir.
  • Screw caps are aluminum which is a renewable material
  • Screw caps are fine, as are synthetics, but I still like traditional natural corks.
  • Screw caps keep WHITE wine fresher longer, not red
  • Screw caps may not be renewable, but don't they recycle?
  • Some of these are hard to answer because it depends on other circumstances or factors.
  • some wines are reductive due to screw caps and can smell like sulphur
  • Tablas Creek Winery is running long-term experiments on screw caps for wine that needs to age. What they say I'll believe though right now I think that ageing requires some amount of "breathing".
  • there are a lot of opinions here but the key to letting a wine "breath" is giving it sufficient air, either in the glass or by decanting.
  • These questions are rather strange. Need to make a distinction between aromatic whites and ageable reds. Also, spell PREFER correctly!! :-)
  • This whole bit about a wine "breathing" in the bottle is a bit misleading. If wine's actually did breath in the bottle, they would all be oxidized. Are you suggesting that the ullage in older bottles is due to the relative porosity of cork?
  • Vague statements, lead to vague answers
  • While I do like the romance factor associated with cork, please do _not_ assume that's a higher priority for me than how the wine will age. I am in the industry, I have worked with batches of the _same_ wine sealed with different closures, and the difference in how the wine developed is what most drives my preferences.
  • Wine "fresher" for Whites...for Reds, screw capped wines can have a proscribed amount of soluble oxygen put in to aid the aging process.
  • Wine does not breathe in a corked bottle.
  • You never hear the romance argument being used but I think it's a major reason for staying with natural cork. I hate opening a screw cap, it's like scratching your fingernails on a chalk board.
Trade verbatim comments:
  • Corks don't breathe - you may want to find work done by Paulo Lopes at the Univ. of Bordeaux
  • Don't forget corks are covered by a capsule which is made from nonrenewable material - so cork can't claim any advantage in that regard.
  • I wouldn't buy a wine with a screw cap, therefore I won't use them.
  • I'm undetermined whether Cork and how much cork allows wines to breathe or not, but I can tell you from a wine owner/wine maker/wine drinker view point. Wines aged with cork age differently and taste different than wines aged with synthetics or screw caps. Spencer Clark
  • it is my understanding that wine will age regardless of a "breathable" cork. proteins and anthocyanins bond creating sediment, removing color, etc.
  • Lots of variations within each question. Reds vrs whites, etc
  • No one qualified seems to agree on this cork breathing and wine breathing thing. I've understood that if the wine under screw cap becomes reduced it will smell like burnt rubber, not sulfur.
  • not all of these questions are that cut and dry....so to speak....some one needs to proof read these questions.....
  • Once a wine leaves a wineries control anything can happen to it. Storage conditions and temperature conditions are the largest problems with fine wine. Wine is a perishable product like milk,
  • opinions regarding long-term efficacy of screw-cap closures will have to wait for long term studies to be completed for validation.
  • Our wines are better with some bottle time. Screw caps are iffy at best.
  • Screw caps have the potential to cause reduction in white wines, but by using a vinyl insert, that problem is eliminated. The benefits of no TCA and no oxidation for reds far outweigh the use benefits of using cork. And aluminum screw caps are recyclable.
  • Some wines are good candidates for screw caps and others not so much. Wines with potential for reduction should not go under a screw caps
  • Some wines need a little more ability to "breathe" then others. Pinot Noir tends to be a bit reductive and screw caps can overly emphasize that.
  • This is a loaded survey. Red wines can benefit from the 1.5 mg/L/year that corks provide. Research has shown that reduction can be enhanced by screw caps, but Stelvin technology is reducing that.
  • Wine does not "need" to breathe to age, although a small amount is generally good for the wine.
  • Wines do not breathe, but they need what a barrel and a cork can do for them.
  • Wines need to "breathe" to age to the extent that no closure provides a hermetic seal and thus there is some amount of micro-oxidation occurring allowing the wine to age and develop.
  • You guys need to come up with a better descriptor than "sulphury". It's way too vague and confusing. If you are referring to 'reductive', then, no, screw caps do NOT make the wine taste (or smell) sulphury.
  • You have asked questions that in this format cancel out each other. On lower end wines, I believe screw caps to be the best choice, on higher end wines that would be cellar for 5 years or longer I would prefer a cork. It also depends on the screw cap, 2 different kinds on the inside the one with the white cap good to lay down 1-8 years, the one on the inside with tin top 8-12 years

Opinion on wine closures over the past year.
WineRelease Comments - Most people's preference for wine closures has not changed in the past year.

Consumer verbatim comments:
  • As long as the wine tastes good its fine with me.
  • Cork is best for high quality reds.
  • Corks are a waste on any wine < $50 retail
  • for everyday wine, I don't have preferences on wine closures, but special wines that I want to age I strongly check the wine closures
  • I am more tolerant on screw caps, I see them as inert, like the bottle
  • I don't really care what closures wineries use. I just want them to work. The best thing about screw tops is not needing a corkscrew - which is great for travel or a picnic.
  • I go for screw tops
  • I have a stronger preference for screw caps and aromatic whites than ever. Synthetic and composite corks I hate more than ever - they are a pain in the ass to remove and they don't go back in the bottle very well.
  • I have come to see the advantages to screw cap closures on some wines.
  • I have warmed up to screw caps on < $20 bottles of wine.
  • I have yet to see _anything_ that comes close to cork for desirable aging in reds. You could ask most of the questions you asked re: screw caps about the glass closures and get the same answers.
  • I learned that screw caps were an amazing thing 4-5 years ago, I really don't care for plastic corks, I feel it can mess with the wines quality. Have you ever had Coke in a glass bottle verses a plastic bottle? There is a HUGE difference!, I believe a plastic cork will alter a wines true flavor
  • I like fresh tasting flavorful wines. Right out of the barrel is often my favorite. If wine has to be aged in oak or the bottle to make it drinkable, it must have been as bad as the elderberry wine I made one time. That took over a year to be drinkable at all. (It was bottled in quart beer bottles with bottle caps.)
  • I like the trend we're on with more white wines showing up under Stelvin.
  • I love cork... REAL cork.
  • I love wine, I serve it every day. Every time I get a 'corked' bottle, I curse the winemaker at the winery. They can solve it, but hide behind 'costs' and traditions'. That is so much snake oil!
  • I prefer natural cork, but good screw caps are acceptable
  • I still prefer cork but i see the value in rubber and synthetic corks. Screw caps are still OUT
  • I still prefer cork closure. I still get annoyed when I open a corked wine.
  • I think screw caps would be a preferred closure if its proven wines would age as well as natural corks
  • I went from natural cork being a must to synthetic cork being just fine. Yuck to screw top.
  • I would not say that my preference for cork has changed, but I would say that I do not mind finding a screw cap on a wine I am about to buy. So my perception has changed on screw cap, my preference is still for cork.
  • I'd love to see high end wine in boxes.
  • if any other product was faced with 14-15 of its production flawed they would be out of business.
  • I'm now more open to trying wines in different closures than before.
  • It was more a fear from wineries than Sommeliers... we know our wines :)
  • Leaning more toward screw cap.
  • low end and med range fine with the Stelvins. but higher end i still prefer corks..even though i hate to fine it corked.
  • More accepting of screw caps
  • More accepting of screw tops.
  • More and more good quality wines have been switching to screw caps and I have grown to appreciate that more.
  • More open to screw caps
  • More TCA flawed wines
  • my acceptance of screw caps is greater, but I still prefer corks for reds and more serious/ageable whites.
  • My preferences have changed to include screw tops over the last 3 years.
  • Only in that I think screw caps on white fine is o.k.
  • Right now would say preference is the same but increasing acceptance of screw caps
  • Screw caps become more evident daily, and the more I use them, the more I like them
  • screw caps have gown on me
  • Synth corks have become my least favorite as they have the disadvantages of requiring a corkscrew, are not recycled, and have plastic contacting the wine,
  • Synthetic or natural cork for reds; either to include screw caps for whites
  • The Tablas Creek experimental bottlings in screw cap are great! I'm being converted.
  • Until wines like Harlan and Lafite comes with a screw top, I think we should just stick to tradition
Trade verbatim comments:
  • because of environment
  • I believe that a wine can be properly stored with a screw closure. However, I would not buy a screw wine, due to the diminished "feeling" associated with opening that wine.
  • I'm moving from all natural to the diam corks of cleaned ground up cork, which is neither natural or synthetic so some of the questions were hare for me to answer.
  • none
  • screw caps are better
  • Screw caps should, if used at all, be limited to a price point maximum of $1.50
  • Screwcaps are convenient, not only for the laziness factor, but for traveling, camping, free music in the park etc...
  • Screwcaps are growing in acceptability for certain wines, and that is positive.
  • See comment 7
  • the quality of screw caps has improved and I hope it continues to do so. In general with quick to consume wines I have had the most consistent experiences with the screw caps
  • Used to buy 1/2 cork and 1/2 Diam, now we are 100% DIAM. NO TCA ever.

6. Any overall comments you wish to provide?

Consumer verbatim comments:
  • 22 year veteran of the wine business, tired of opening expensive bottles with cork taint and no recourse (ie refund or exchange) Screw cap them all!
  • 75% wines should have screw tops which are much preferred to artificial cork. The other 25% should have traditional cork
  • A very general survey. To be of value, you should gain survey taker's wine background (novice, expert, industry, etc). Demographics are important too!
  • After tasting a cork to a screw top from the same producer aged the same time from the same vineyard, i preferred the cork. The year, '03 Russian River, was warm and it still showed that higher alcohol in the screw top. Where the cork it had time to age and the fruit had time to integrate with the alcohol in the wine. I find that screw tops are great for parties and for by the glass programs at Restaurants. These always for the same consistent wine to be poured in large mass.
  • Age = Cork = Breath = Romance Wines to be consumed within a year should use a screw top, saving quality cork for aging high quality reds.
  • Ageable wines should have a cork. Screwcaps are FANTASTIC for wines meant to be consumed young. I would like to see more data on the impact of the Alentejo forests in Portugal in regards to less of a demand for cork. I know that it is supposedly a bad thing for those forests because the cork harvesting somehow helps preserve the forests and animal life.
  • Ageworthy, nicer $25 & up should remain cork (even if just for the pageantry). That said, screw caps are the preferred method for wines meant to be consumed in a fresh state.
  • Although I like corks the time has come to change!
  • Although I prefer natural corks for esthetic reasons, (I do associate caps with cheap wines)in my experience I find that a lot of cheap capped wines are better than some relatively expensive corked wines.
  • An interesting topic that perhaps requires a little more "trees" of thought, especially the white vs red issue which is not that straightforward!
  • answer in 9 above
  • As a professional retail wine buyer, I taste 70-100 wines/week. Better winemaking and technology have made a tremendous difference in the release-quality of all wines. The closure is as much a marketing/image issue as it is a quality-maintenance/ageing issue. Once those two broad issues are separated, this subject would be better served.
  • At some point winemakers will need to relearn how to produce red wines and age them with a synthetic cork or screw tops. Producers and consumers cling to the idea of wine needing to "breath" as it ages - and I think this is true. However, that's because of how we produce wine currently and when and how we choose to age it -- all things that were learned when alternative enclosures weren't around. We need to re-think the process. THere's no reason this canít be done - winemakers/consumers just don't want too.
  • can't stand synthetic cork. Makes me think cheap wine. Screw caps don't
  • Corks are the worst.
  • Didn't Plumpjack release a vintage (or more) of its estate cabernet under screw cap with much fanfare? And didn't they end of later reversing that policy? I don't see any such cabs among their current offering. https://crow.he.net/~plump/winery.html
  • Difficult survey to interpret.
  • Except for "expensive" wines that need to be put down for many years, I prefer screw caps...not sure if the survey can reflect that opinion.
  • George Taber's book on all the closures available has helped me solidify my views but also enlightened me to the notion that synthetic corks allow for premature oxygenation of the wine. While I'm still unsure about long term 'ageability' of wines (red or white) that utilize screw caps and I think that all wines meant to be consumed within 5 years of release should be in screw caps. I hate cork taint and it is frustrating to no end.
  • Glass stoppers are the best.
  • Have visited Portugal's cork forests & production facilities twice in last 5 years and believe that industry doing a better job. I like the natural, and apparently "sustainable", aspects to traditional cork.
  • Having tasted bottles side-by-side that have been aged both in screw cap and in cork, the screw cap shows a fresher, move vibrant wine - this is what I'm looking for!
  • I don't have any basis for this prejudice, but price point makes a difference. When I pay over $100 for a bottle of cabernet sauvignon, I want a real cork in it, not synthetic or screw top. That is probably something I'll get over in time as I learn more about how wines age (or not) with the alternatives.
  • I feel that the screw cap is an acceptable alternative to natural cork..
  • I know it is just personal taste, but I would hesitate to buy a higher priced wine if it had a screw cap. I have no problem with screw caps up to about the $20 level.
  • I like the new glass closures. I have not idea how well they will affect the wine's ability to age, however.
  • I prefer natural corks for reds, especially over $15, otherwise synthetic is fine for me. I don't age whites, so screw caps are fine for me.
  • I prefer the tradition of natural cork & will pay extra for it!
  • I really don't like the hard, impossible-to-peel, plastic toppers.
  • I wish more wineries would choose screw caps for their white or inexpensive reds.
  • I wish people would stop associating cheap wine with screw tops. I have consumed many great wines that have come from screw tops and don't tast the difference. My only concern is about the cap not being renewable. It won't keep me from buying wine with a cap though
  • I would like to see some long term testing. Someone should bottle the same wine and close some with cork and some with screw cap and compare how they age.
  • I'm still on the fence about this issue, science tells me you run a risk for cork taint with natural corks but how often and will the odds go up as the wine ages, and it also tells me that there is nothing reactive in a screw cap to affect the wine, but I still like cork regardless but am not shying away from wine just because it has a screw cap
  • Keep up the good work Neil!
  • Keep up the good work! Expand your palates.
  • Molly dooker is good, but we'll see how great the wine is with the screw top in 10-20 years
  • more screw caps or glass closures
  • Most Cali/OR wine is made to be drunk within a few years - screw caps are fine. No studies of how the wines hold up 7-10 years later.
  • Most wines are purged before the cork or closure is inserted. The quality of the cork is a big part of the problem and long aging wines need to be recorked from time to time. Temperature changes can cause the cork seal to fail, but this does not mean that the wine will necessarily fail because once the temperature stabilizes, the bottles are generally resealed.
  • My preference and what I think works best for wine is: Cork for most all reds made for aging over 4 years... screw caps are OK for most whites and cheaper reds... I hate plastic or synthetic corks because they are hard to get out, don't seal as well and tend to change the taste of the wine over time.
  • My wife and I manage a wine shop and over the past year we personally have had about 40 corked bottles.
  • Need more research/studies on how wine ages with screw caps.
  • Probably will prefer cork until there is long term empirical data on screw caps
  • Really do not like synthetic corks
  • Screw caps are convenient and appropriate for wines made to be consumed early. For great wines meant to be aged for decades, I don't think screw caps have an adequate track record to trust them for long aging.
  • screw caps are convenient but taint still possible from other sources.synthetic 'cork' seems to me to have the best potential for the best alternative closure
  • See 9
  • Stop using corks on cheap wine or wines not meant for aging.Stop putting wine in the box questions in a serious survey on wine.It doesn't belong in this text. Larry Seibel
  • Synthetic corks are just downright creepy.
  • TCA is definitely a problem. But reductive closures aren't a solution for age worthy wines. TCA usually only gets a few bottles. Stunted bottle development gets them all. Reductive closures are a "cure" that is far worse than the disease, for age worthy wines. For a snappy NZ Sauv Blanc? Screwcap all the way.
  • Thank You
  • The huge elephant in the room here are the large integrated wine companies. They can provide wine more inexpensively because of economies of scale. Screw caps help. Their branding strategy is to try and convince people to drink wine just like you drink beer, casually, without food, in many settings, and pushed, but not said directly, for alcohol. They blur sensations. So they have a vested interest in convincing people that screw caps do not degrade quality. But if screw caps were more expensive, they would not use them. It is not a TCA or quality issue.
  • There should be some discussion/education on the benefits/drawbacks to each option.
  • too much of a big deal keeps being made over this.
  • When it comes to deciding on wine bottle closures, I say screw it!
  • You are missing the new glass closures as an option
  • You didn't mention Stelvin?
  • You should also include glass corks/vinoloks in this survey.
Trade verbatim comments:
  • Again, it is helpful to bring (reusable) glass closures into the discussion (oakville cross, robert sinskey).
  • Corks are not a problem overall. Screw caps are a problem if the wine needs to develop. For short time aging wines screw caps are fine, but then you don't know if the wine could have improved if a cork was used.
  • Corks are our preferred closure for quality Oregon Pinot Noir. White wines are fine under screw caps, but also benefit from cork - from both tradition and service considerations.
  • Diam is better than cork, no variation between bottles so bottle variability is limited.
  • Even Two-Buck-Chuck uses cork!!
  • I believe screw-caps are a better closure for most white wines and reds that will be consumed within one year after bottling. However, I prefer a natural cork in a special bottle of red wine that I will be saving and aging for a special occasion 5-10 years in the future...
  • More expensive wines deserve natural cork closures.
  • New liners for screw caps do allow some oxygen transfer - similar to cork.
  • none
  • Recommend reading "Bottle Shock". Excellent book on the subject.
  • Screwcaps are great when you've worked all day long, pulling corks, and pouring wine to people... you get home, crack the screw cap and pour yourself a big glass!!!!
  • the new glass enclosures are cool but seem to have a large carbon footprint. they are inert though!
  • Why is it in this day and age that we can't come up with a product that looks and acts like real cork, but at the same time, we seem to be able to do unbelievable things such as send people and objects into space and create something as unique as Velcro.
  • You didn't mention glass closures. I would be interested in anyone's thoughts on that as a closesure.
  • You omitted Vino-loc closures!!!


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