Why Screw Tops Are…Well…Tops!

by Monica Bennion on June 13, 2012

Wine is a multi-dimensional creature, with a lot of different characteristics and nuances.  Some wines are sculpted to be romantic, sultry and seductive, where others are crafted to be playful, easy-going and fit in with any crowd.  While this describes what may be inside the bottle, what about that first impression?  How does the wine bottle look?  Is the label fancy or fanciful?  Does the description entice thoughts of a candlelight dinner or a backyard barbecue?  And what about the closure?  Is it a traditional cork closure or the new wave screw top?  This last question is one in particular that has been long debated among winemakers and consumers.

While there is something to be said about the magic and romance of carefully peeling off the foil, and gently uncorking a nice bottle of wine for a special occasion, there is just as much to be said about the fun-loving, “grab and go” bottle with a screw top.  Below we have some great reasons why we think screw tops are great!

It’s happened to all of us (and if it hasn’t yet, just wait, it will).  You’ve brought along a great bottle of wine to a barbecue, picnic or party, only to find that not one person there has a corkscrew.  What now?  Well, there is always the “break in” method.  You grab anything in sight that might have the perceived capability at getting that cork out, or in (think forks, knives, power drills, etc.).  Alternatively you could head to the store and spring for a corkscrew, which you solemnly swear to always keep in your car for the “next time”.  The best solution however, is to avoid this situation and bring along a wine with a screw top.  Twist and pour, it’s that simple!  No tools – No problem.

We’ve all been there – It’s been a long and exhausting day, and you really just want to sit down and have a good talk with a full and cheerful glass.  Maybe your patience has been worn thin, and what little you have left should not be wasted on fiddling around with a cork.  It’s times like these that even the simple task of opening a bottle of wine can be grueling.  And by no means are you in the mood to be “romantic”.  Time to put on the fuzzy slippers and call in a good friend, an easy-going bottle, with a screw top.  Twist, pour and relax!

Wines with screw tops are often looked at as being “cheap” and of lesser quality than those with corks.  In my experience, this couldn’t be further from the truth.  I’ve had plenty of delicious Napa Valley Merlots, dry and biting San Luis Obispo Rieslings, and zesty, lush Amador County Zinfandels with screw tops that often take a “Best In Show” in blind taste tests among friends.  The fact that a wine has a screw top does not mean it is inferior, and is usually priced lower than those with a cork.  So, the next time you are looking for a fun and friendly wine, give a screw top a chance.

We know that it is best to store a wine with a cork on its side or upside down.  This prevents the cork from drying out, and can help protect the wine when cellaring.  What about a wine with a screw top?  How should it be stored?  Well, as long as you’ve got a cool, dark spot (think cellar, wine fridge, linen closet), a wine with a screw top can be stored anyway it will fit.  On its side, upside down or upright.  Because there is no cork to dry out, a wine with a screw top is ideal for not so ideal storage spots.

I don’t know about you, but I hate trying to put a cork back in an open bottle.  It can be like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, and sometimes results in a mess (that might just be me though).  With the variety of gadgets and gizmos made to stop off wine, it’s a wonder why I even bother with the cork in the first place.  With screw tops though, there is never a problem with closing off a bottle.  Twist off, twist on.  Twist off, twist on.  Isn’t that easy?

One of the biggest issues in the cork versus screw cap debate is that of protecting and aging your wine.  Some believe that a wine with a cork is best for aging wine, and allows for micro-oxidation over the years, helping the wine mature and mellow.  Although the screw tops have not been around long enough to really get a good study on how these wines age for long periods of time, taste tests have shown that wines with screw tops stay fresh, bright and lively compared to the same exact wine with a cork closure.  If you like your wines vivacious and energetic, screw top wines are the way to go.

The fun thing about wine, is that it knows how to dress up or dress down.  Some wine is debonair in its tuxedo and cummerbund, while other wines are playful in cutoffs and flip flops.  No matter the occasion, there is always a wine to fit.  Screw cap wines are always fun because they fit in just about anywhere.  Imagine a screw cap at a black tie event, it would be there in a tux with a goofy tie and tennis shoes.  It might be looked down on at first, but one introduction and everyone would love it!  Bring a screw cap to a backyard barbecue, and the next thing you know, it’s everyone’s new best friend and the life of the party.

Share with us your thoughts on screw caps.  Do you like them or not?  Have you ever wrongly judged a wine with a screw cap?  What’s the oldest screw cap wine you have?  How is it tasting?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Don Luschar June 14, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Corks are fine.
However screw tops are also fine.What counts is what is in the bottle! I really dislike plastic corks,They ruin your corkscrew and are difficult to put back in the bottle.
All screw tops are fine with me.


Jana Harvey July 2, 2012 at 5:13 pm

Thanks, Don. We feel the same about plastic corks–although Scott mentions they can be used great as a pencil eraser. Probably much better than a wine closure.


Gary Gold June 18, 2012 at 7:04 am

I hope to be around when Bordeaux First Growths come with screw tops. The most important thing to me about wine bottle closures is that they allow oxygen into the bottle at a similar rate to cork. That is what the screw top industry is working on – a seal that will “breathe” just as cork does. No TCA is great. By the way, your 2009 Jana, Mendiceno Riesling is too good.


Jana Harvey July 2, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Thanks for your comment, Gary. I think Jana Riesling would do great in a screwcap–then you can open it easily wherever you are!


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