As all wine drinkers know, corks have been the means of closing wine bottles for centuries. In fact, corks have been keeping wine in bottles since about the 17th century. In 1964 metal screw caps were introduced to the wine industry and they now hold a large share of the wine bottle closure market. Ever since that time, there has been an ongoing controversy as to which one is the best: cork or metal screw cap?
The debate continues today and I can only assume it will never be determined which is best. It used to be thought that only the less expensive wines were bottled in screw caps. However today there seems to be a small movement toward some winemakers bottling their finer wines in screw cap bottles.
It seems, and perhaps rightfully so, that screw caps present a good viable alternative to a cork. Having said that, I don’t have any intention of switching to screw cap bottles for the wines I produce. I intend, in a later blog article, to report on the pros and cons of each option. This blog focuses on the storage of both types of wine bottles.
Traditionally, cork-closed bottles are best stored on their sides to keep the cork moist. If stored upright, over time, the cork will dry out and shrink, allowing air into the bottle and spoiling the wine. Even with bottles on their sides the cork does slowly allow the bottle to breathe, which ages the wine by mellowing the tannins, changing the flavor profile positively.
Screw caps do not let any air into the bottle. Therefore, they can be stored either vertically or horizontally. Storing wine bottles vertically has several benefits.
I prefer to store my screw cap bottles upright for two reasons. First, storing them vertically takes less space in my wine cellars. I can even store them on the floor if necessary. Secondly, screw caps offer drinking and serving convenience.
After years of corked bottles being stored on their sides, especially fine wines, which tend to be lightly filtered or not filtered at all during storage and bottling, will begin to throw off sediment. These older horizontally stored bottles should be turned upright for 24 hours before they are uncorked. This allows any sediment that is clinging to the sides of the bottle to settle to the bottom of the bottle, thus preventing the sediment from being poured into a glass. If the screw cap bottles are stored upright in the first place there is no wait time to open them.
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Until next week,
Calendar of Events
- November 7 – International Merlot Day
- November 14 – International Tempranillo Day
- November 20 – International Zinfandel Day
- December 4 – Cabernet Franc Day
- December 20 – National Sangria Day
- December 31 – National Champagne Day