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Screw Cap vs Cork: which is better?

screw cap vs cork

Traditionally, screw caps were a sign of cheap, low class wine. But does that stereotype still hold true today? Keep reading to explore the pros and cons of screw cap vs cork?

What did they use before corks?

Natural corks have been used to plug wine bottles for over 250 years. But what about before that? Of course, we all know wine has been around for centuries. They even mention Noah drinking wine as far back as the great flood.

Prior to the use of cork, oiled rags were used as stoppers. People also fashioned plugs from wood.

Then in the 1950s, manufacturers started using screw caps to seal value jugs of cooking wine.

However, it wasn’t until the earlier this millennium, that Australia and New Zealand started using screw caps on higher end bottles of wine. But why?

Pros & cons of screw cap vs cork

screw cap vs cork, shows a photo of both natural and synthetic corks

Pros of natural corks

Corks are eco-friendly. This oak variety regenerates its bark every 10 years. The trees themselves can live up to 200 years. Therefore, natural corks are sustainable.
Corks are compostable. Due to being a product of nature, corks easily biodegrade.

Wine connoisseurs often use natural cork as a tool to identify aroma and freshness of wine.

Cons of natural corks

Corks must be kept wet to fill the opening completely and prevent crumbling from drying. Consequently, bottles must be kept on their side.
TCA, a fungus that grows in cork, can make wine sour or smell like wet dog. In other words, the wine risks cork taint.
damaged wine cork
In addition, natural corks cost 3x the price of screw caps. Subsequently this leads to higher wine prices.
Because they come from nature, cork can be inconsistent. That means they may let air into the bottle, therefore oxidizing the wine.

Did you know…

While synthetic corks don’t break apart or risk cork taint like natural corks, they cause oxidation at a faster pace. Therefore, wine bottlers use them mainly for wines meant to be drunk young.

Benefits of screw caps

Easy to transport – no need for wine opener. Easy to recap.

Cheaper to produce – keeps wine prices down.
Preserves wine better – doesn’t let oxygen in once bottle is opened.

So who wins: screw cap vs cork?

screw cap vs cork, which is better for wine bottles

While both have their pros and cons, which is better really depends on your preference and the kind of wine you prefer.

According to wine writer Dave McIntyre, corks are better for red wines and Chardonnays. Fuller wines benefit from the slight oxygen that seeps in through the cork. The air helps smooth out the tannins, making the wine softer.

On the other hand, according to James Foster of Cupcake Vineyards, screw caps are better for whites and reds meant to be drunk young.

So there you have it. That is a brief analysis of screw caps vs. corks.

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Donna Emperador is a creative blogger and copywriter. Donna believes in learning about different cultures while sharing good food and wine. She has lived in South Florida for over 20 years and enjoys spending time traveling and making wine culture easier to understand for readers.

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