Winemakers are split on their views of how to seal wines to keep the quality and freshness intact during shipping and storage. If the sealing process is a success, the wine winds up being a smash at the dinner table. If not, the wine is pronounced undrinkable.
Synthetic corks are becoming popular way to seal wines, but some diehards refuse to alter the traditional method of sealing their valuable cargo with cork.
If a cork is easy to remove and the contents are fresh and full-flavored, the buyer doesn’t even notice the cork. But if the cork is dry and brittle and the wine has turned to vinegar, the cork becomes crucially important.
Most corks are cut from the bark of an oak tree that grows in Portugal and in Mediterranean countries. A cork can be attacked by a fungus that makes the cork moldy, and this affects the wine bottle’s contents.
Some vintners are combat the cork flaws by trying to remove molds, bacteria and yeast from the bark before it is used to seal wine. Boiling the bark in water kills the microorganisms in the cork before it is carved into wine corks.
Synthetic corks are made from plastic and reduce the risk of contamination. Many vintners believe that these corks carry a slight chemical flavor. Synthetic corks can also be more difficult to remove from the bottle.
Screw on caps for wine bottles are made from tin or aluminum and create a seal that lasts longer than traditional corks. But many vintners are unwilling to use screw tops for their best wines because consumers link screw tops to cheap wines.
Crown caps are also part of a growing trend to find a better way seal wine bottles. Crowns have long been used during the fermentation process of the sparkling wines. But like screw tops, there’s nothing special about opening a tightly sealed crown cap bottle.The ceremonial aspect involved with opening a bottle of wine is totally eliminated.
No one wants to open a bottle of wine to find that it’s turned into vinegar. The purchaser is disappointed and the wine merchant’s reputation suffers. That’s why winemakers are setting wine closures their number one priority.