Is Cork the Best Wine Stopper?

published Sep 14, 2011
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When the issue of wine screw caps versus corks comes up, the message often seems to be this: metal caps are more practical, but people can’t let go of the romanticism of corks. A recent article on Gizmodo says, forget romanticism. Corks are better in every way. Are they right?

Writer Rachel Swaby points out that cork has been successfully stoppering bottles for thousands of years. Its unique physical properties allow it to compress to half its size and resist decay, even when submerged in liquid for centuries. For long-cellared wines, the oxygen stored inside the cork also helps keep the small amount of sulfur dioxide within the wine from disintegrating and becoming smelly.

Oddly, the article doesn’t mention cork’s main drawback: cork taint, or the presence of the compound TCA, which gives “corked” wine an unpleasant wet cardboard taste. Screw cap wines don’t suffer from this problem, which the cork industry says affects 1.2% of bottles. (A Wine Spectator study of 2,800 bottles found that 7% were tainted.)

What do you think? Do you prefer wine with corks, or are you a fan of screw caps?

(Image: Flickr member Sam Howzit licensed under Creative Commons)