Don’t judge a Wine by its Screw Cap!
The stereotype these days is that no good wine has a screw top cap; only the cheap ones will sport a screw cap. Let’s face it, you’ve probably never paid $100+ or even $50 for a pretty good bottle of wine and did not use a wine opener. Corks have been used to seal wine since the 1400’s in Europe whereas screw caps are a more recent development only being used since 1964. The corks can tell a lot about a bottle of wine, and a bottle lacking one does not tell a good story. Or does it?
A few years ago, I found myself not willing to even look at the bottles with the screw caps due to the total misconception that it was a cheap wine. The truth is, there are a lot of good wines with a screw top cap. If you travel to certain countries such as Australia, screw caps dominate the wine there; additionally, a lot of Malbecs out of Argentina also have these screw caps, yet countries such as Spain mandate a cork. Why? While in some countries it is purely just preference, there are other factors that come in to play here.
Younger wines that are meant to be drunk within a year will typically sport a screw cap. Winemakers like using the screw caps because it really seals the wine and prevents oxygen from entering the bottle. This is why you see some lighter wines or whites like Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc with screw tops. The screw cap allows these types of wine to keep their fresh and crisp flavor. A perfect example of a great wine with a screw top cap is the Meiomi Pinot Noir; this wine is a lighter bodied red and very fruit forward. It stores well with the screw cap since it is meant to be drunk within a four year time period unlike the bigger wines which should be aged for optimal taste for up to about twenty years.
Bolder and bigger wines designed to age such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah tend to benefit from a little oxygen which is why the cork really works here. This can also help oxidize the tannins making the wine smoother and helps soften the bite on some.
While a lot of winemakers are still very against the use of screw caps, it is still becoming increasingly popular. To put an end to the myth, the screw cap top in place of the cork doesn’t necessarily indicate a cheap wine. At the end of the day, what matters most is the taste.