Although you are unlikely to select a wine solely by its closure, the way a wine is sealed will affect its taste. Similarly, if you are making your own wines, you will want to select wine bottles that will keep your wine fresh and delicious. Traditionally, wines were corked and many wines are still sealed with natural cork. However, more recently synthetic cork stoppers and screw caps are becoming increasingly popular. Which is best for you?
There are several things to consider: the cost, the ability of the stopper to secure the wine’s flavor, and the convenience of using the wine sealer. If you are shopping for a particular ready-made wine, you may have to choose whatever is available. However, if you are making your own wines, you can have more control over the wine closure you purchase.
Natural cork is nostalgically romantic and there is something special about popping a cork before enjoying wine. Nevertheless, natural corks are treated with chemical to sanitize the cork before it is used to stop the bottle. Unfortunately, the sanitizing agent has a moldy smell that can adversely affect the taste of the wine. Additionally, a cork can sometimes break causing flakes of cork to infiltrate the wine. Natural cork is often more expensive that synthetic or screw caps. Generally, better quality corks can seal bottles longer and are priced higher than corks recommended for only a few years.
Another way to seal a wine bottle is with synthetic cork, which is a plastic product shaped like a cork stopper. The problem with this type of stopper is that the wine loses shelf staying power because of oxidation. However, synthetic corks are unlikely to break in the bottle.
More recently, screw caps are becoming a popular way to seal wine bottles. They are economical, provide sufficient sealing to retain the wine’s shelf life and do not negatively impact the wine’s flavor. Additionally screw cap wine bottles can conveniently be resealed. In addition, if you are taking wine on a picnic or other outing, you do not need any special equipment to open the bottle. Nevertheless, studies have not been conclusive on whether the screw cap allows older bottles to breathe as well as cork stoppers.
Choosing the type of wine closure you use may also be a matter of personal preference influenced by the length of time you expect to keep the bottle. Ready-made bottles of wine are still available with all types of closures. However, the gradual trend seems to have many wine makers increasingly using screw caps. Home wine makers will find screw caps to be the most cost effective way to seal bottles while maintaining the wine’s taste, particularly if they do not anticipate keeping the wine for many years.