Hundreds of thousands. No, millions and billions of words have come out of my mouth since the day I uttered my first (which was probably “No”, I will call my mom after I finish writing and find out). Millions and Billions of them I would take back if I could; and the other ten thousand or so I would leave out there for the universe full of humanity to receive in their ears. Does this small sentiment frame me as a person filled with regret? Not at all. In spite of words gone by, powerful though they may be, I am resolved to live for the value of the experience, the opportunities of the future, and the relevance of the present moment.
I’m not a big fan of screwcaps.
And I don’t fancy the Coravin.
There. The words are said and I don’t regret them and if I do regret them at some future time, I will admit to it and those dozen words above will just join the ocean filled with Millions and Billions of others. No big deal.
If the air is heavy now with notions of my pompous wine snooty attitude and my impossible-to-please nature, please allow me to freshen things up a bit. Snap..Crraaackle…plunk. There, twisting open a crisp, cold, dewy fresh bottle of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc ought to do the trick. May we continue.
Let us preface the conversation to come by stating that there is no judgement involved here. These are opinions, each of us is entitled to our own, and the intent is to part as friends and reconvene at a later time as pleasant company would allow. Shall we begin?
My distaste for the Stelvin closure method on bottles of wine is not a complete rejection of it, but rather a conditional and reluctant acceptance. I am fully aware of the soul crushing disappointment associated with a “corky” TCA ruined wine. Allow me to present a few of the corked bottles I have wanted to shed a tear for: a 3 liter of 1997 Reichstrat von Buhl “Armand” Riesling Kabinett (first 3L was GORGEOUS, second was CORKED), a 2007 Marcassin Estate Pinot Noir…down the drain, the Orin Swift Mercury Head that we looked forward to for quite a few years…totally corked when we got around to opening it.
These memories are painful to say the least, but clearly I have illustrated that I understand the evils of TCA. Yet still I do not embrace the clean and sure convenience of the screwcap. Is it because I think the wine it holds in the bottle may be sub-par? Is it because it lacks romance (and I’m a real big fan of romance)? Could it be that that I have no good reason and I’m just fulfilling the prophecy of wine snobbery mentioned above? Yes, it could be any of these. But the two very simple and boring reasons I have for disliking the Stelvin are:
- long term storage reliability
- a lack of air transmission into aging wine
Both of these reasons are storage/cellaring related. As a wine ages, a natural cork allows a minute amount of oxygen (air) to contact the wine causing it to slowly oxidize over time. For some, oxidation is to be abhorred. For others, it’s just another layer of complexity to be appreciated in the oldie but goodies. Again, I emphasize that all judgement is being reserved for better, more heated debates at a later time. If you find yourself to be disgusted at the thought of oxidation or put off by the idea of consuming wine over ten years old then, let it be. Drink fresh; drink what you enjoy. Unscrew and Unwind.
The other situation that concerns me when it comes to the screwcap is the longevity of the closure. On more than one occasion I have had a screwcap spring a leak. Grasping a bottle by the neck to remove it from storage, I heard the snap. Upon inspection, indeed the seal had been compromised. Wine is open now, may as well drink up. Other times a cap has not been applied correctly and this leaves for leakage – possibly ruining more than just one bottle if you’re concerned with the labels of other bottles getting leaked on. Natural corks have seepage problems as well (especially as they age or if stored improperly) yet the remedy of re-corking your older bottles is available – some wine producers even offer it as a special perk; check in with Penfolds for all of you Grange collectors out there.
Having stated my defense for natural corks I move on to say once more, there is nothing wrong with Screwcap Wines. To qualify that statement, there is nothing wrong with screwcap wines from reputable producers making decent, fresh, ready to drink styles that you will consume within the first 2 to 5 years. So I urge you as wine consumers to read between the lines when purchasing these wines. Penner Ash Viognier at dinner with Barack Obama in the Whitehouse? Sure, why not. But I don’t want to see this producer drawing connections between their stunning Viognier that drinks well now but will age like a fine Condrieu. The fabled Pinots of Pyramid Valley Vineyards in New Zealand – I’m growing very close to the day I taste them, but I don’t want to hear about how elegant and expressive they are now and how they are going to age like an austere Burgundy under their screwcaps. Let’s not even start on the handful of German Rieslings setting themselves up to be consumed young.
There you have it. The air here feels fresh and fine now that I have closure on the issue of closures. And why don’t I fancy the fancy Coravin?
Let’s just say that to be stingy with wine would not be an authentic representation of my character. -tiffandsauce
More on that next time.
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