Wine Forum: Corks vs. Caps / by Anthony Michael Contrino

Photo by: Timur Saglambilek

Photo by: Timur Saglambilek

I recently visited Newport Winery, a beautiful facility in Middletown, Rhode Island.  The winery houses a cafe, a restaurant, a well-stocked gift shop, and of course wine tasting bars and the factory.  I arrived just in time to catch one of their daily tours - complete with tasting.   After tasting everything from delicate whites to oaky reds to moscato and port (I already had a list of everything I wanted to purchase!) we embarked on out tour.  The guide was very knowledgeable.  She took us out into one of their three vineyards, the processing room, the barrel room and, last but not least, the filling and labeling room.  I was very impressed by the operation and was excited to get into the gift shop, until she showed us how the wine is sealed with screw caps.  My first though was - CHEAP!  It was obvious that this winery was very passionate about their vintages and it was a beautifully maintained facility, so why the screw caps.  

Why?  That's what the winemaker wanted.  I assumed it was to cut corners, but she had a solid explanation.  Wine grown in the northeast (and USA in general) is more delicate than wines from other regions.  The winemaker believes that an airtight seal maintains the nuances and flavor of the wine.  

After I left, it got me thinking, there are many pros to using metal caps.  

COST: Yes, they are cheaper than using cost, but the savings is often passed on to the purchaser.  

SUSTAINABILITY:  While cork is both natural and renewable, it is a limited resource.  Screw caps are typically made out of metal and are recyclable.*

QUALITY:  Puritans may say that a cork is part of a vintage's character, but there is always a chance that the wine will be tainted.  It is impossible to tell if a wine is corked until the seal is removed and the cork is removed.  With a screw cap, no need to worry!  

PRACTICALITY:  Have you ever seen someone struggle to open a screw cap on a wine bottle?  I don't think so.  Plus, no need worry about owning a corkscrew.  

Now if only I could get past the stigma of screw cap = cheap, all will be good. 

*Some areas ask that you not recycle caps.  Because of their small size, they are prone to jam the machinery at recycling facilities.