Corks or Screw Tops – The Great Debate

Now I’ll just say this now ‘I am a traditionalist when it comes to wine’. Over the last few years I’ve been hearing ridiculous rumors that soon all wines will have a screw top rather than a corks. To me that just sounds sacrilege! Why would anybody want to do that?

I equate wines with screw tops to drinking lighter fluid, homeless people, and people who just don’t know anything about wine. So why would anyone want to replace my wine corks with something with such a bad image? I decided to look into this ludicrous debate and see what everyone has to say about it.

It seems that the debate revolves around several factors. The main one being that a screw top supposedly protects the wine better and preserves it more to the liking of the winemaker. Apparently wines with corks can be ruined by a tainted cork that lets in too much oxygen. Some corks get tainted by something called 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA) and it can cause the wine to smell like a damp basement. It’s harmless to humans but can spoil a bottle of wine regardless of how expensive it is.

The other smaller debate among some people is that it is causing the deforestation of cork trees. I don’t really know if this is a huge issue compared to other environmental issues that need to be addressed but it is an issue none the less.

Now don’t get me wrong I am a pretty good environmentalist and I don’t want my wine to go bad but when it comes to my wine I still have a really hard time giving up my bottles with corks in them especially since I can probably only name two times in my wine drinking life that I’ve gotten a bottle of wine that had gone bad from a cork that was tainted. Both times I returned them to the store where I got them and they replaced the bottle without question.

You see, with some things in life I am a big non-conformist but with other basic things I am the most traditional person you’ll meet. Roses are my favorite flower. I like romantic dinners. I think that every woman should have a classic black dress in their closet just in case and when it comes to wine I want my corks please.

The corks to me represent how wine is supposed to be made. It’s primal to some extent but it’s really romantic in my opinion. There’s something about the thought of some Roman a long time ago opening his bottle of wine the same way I do (minus the modern cork screw…but I think you get the gist none the less). There’s also that beautiful popping sound the cork makes when you open that bottle and the slightly musky cork smell. It’s just the way it should be in my opinion.

I’ve been told that all wine will eventually turn to screw tops but I find that really hard to believe because I know I am not the only one out there that prefers good old corks. If, by chance, that should be true I’ll deal with it then but for right now I will be honest and forthright and tell you that I won’t be buying any wine with a screw top. I just can’t! It goes against all that I believe in (well maybe not ALL…I might be being a bit melodramatic…but I digress…).

So I ask you all, what is your position in the great wine cork versus screw top debate? Give me your comments and input on the whole thing.



About Buhl Creative Enterprises

Owner of Buhl Creative Enterprises

Posted on January 6, 2011, in Education, Wine Terms and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Great article Veronica. It raised some really interesting points, and was well written.
    I see your point about corks being the way wine was ‘meant to be made’ but my own view is that just because it started that way doesn’t mean it should necessarily continue that way. I know some prefer vinyl to CD’s for a similar reason; I suspect though if we’d started on CD’s and moved to vinyl, there would be an outcry about the quality of the sound and convenience, amongst many other things. Many prefer the way cars used to be; big noisy gas guzzlers that they could cruise around in with no seatbelt; they don’t want a quiet modern safe fuel efficient car. Food used to be creamy and fatty (and I love it like that) but I choose healthy food even though I miss the fatty versions.
    I’m no traditionalist so to me I’ll choose whatever is best for me. I do miss the pop of a cork, but I can give that up for the convenience of a screw top. I can reseal it very easily; no problem if I don’t have a cork screw; I’ve never had a screwtop wine that has gone off.
    If we had started with screwtops and moved to corks, you (and many others) would probably still prefers corks for the ‘experience’, but it wouldn’t be about how it was supposed to be made.
    Will be interesting to see others’ views.
    Thanks for starting this discussion.

    • Good points, Clive and thanks for adding your comments. I was wondering what you would think because just today I read that 90% of wines from New Zealand have screw tops. Is that really true? I can see your view too even though I am really attached to my corks. But like everything I suppose if it goes that way I’ll get used to it and it’s not like I’ll give up drinking wine because of it…though I’ll probably whine and cry about it while I am drinking it. 🙂

  2. It’s been a long time since I’ve found a wine with a cork, but that’s maybe because I don’t tend to drink fancy (expensive) wines. Wouldn’t surprise me if the 90% figure is correct.
    You’ll just have to ‘pop’ your finger out of your mouth to replicate the sound, while you unscrew 🙂

  3. If corks were really superior, Circle K would have been using them decades ago for their finest wine – Boones Farm Country Kwencher. Twist off cap, less than 3 dollars a bottle and came with it’s own paper bag to enhance flavor.
    Sadly I read that it is no longer available, a great loss.

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