Getting Closures

January 28, 2022 by
Maytte Rivera

From those who prefer the romanticism and tradition of natural corks to those who enjoy the easiness of screw caps, closures have been a topic of debate for many years.  But what are the differences and purposes of these closures? Let’s look at the most common forms of wine closures, from natural cork to synthetic corks and screwcaps.

Natural cork comes from the bark of the cork oak tree, mostly from the forests in Spain and Portugal.  It is considered the most ecological bottle closure since the bark is harvested without harming the tree, which can live for up to 200 years.  This cork can expand and contract to allow small amounts of oxygen to enter the bottle and help long lasting wines to achieve full maturity.  Unfortunately, these corks can be affected by TCA bacteria which can give the wine the off odor of “wet rag” or “cork taint”, ruining your wine experience completely.

Synthetic corks are usually made of petroleum or plant-based plastics.  These plastic corks are resistant to TCA bacteria, durable and usually less expensive to produce than natural corks. Young wines benefit from this type of closure since they keep the wine fresh and without any oxygen contact.  However, petroleum-based corks are not biodegradable, adding an unnecessary waste to an already struggling environment.  They can be hard to reseal once the bottle is open but add the romantic effect of opening a wine bottle.

Screw caps used to have a bad reputation since most wine drinkers had the perception that caps were only used for cheap “not so good” wines.  Nowadays we can find wines with screw cap closures in all ranges of prices and quality.  These caps are made from aluminum lined with plastic, are very easy to open, affordable to produce and provide consistency since the wine can not be infected with TCA bacteria. In terms of aging potential, the debate continues between those who think that wine with this closure don’t mature at all and those who believe they do, only slower. 

Most of the wines that are produced these days are consumed in less that three years of production, leaving us with the question: are natural corks necessary or just a figure of tradition? In my opinion, there is only one answer… don’t judge a wine by its closure…

Author: Maytte Rivera

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