October 08, 2023 by Alyssa Taylor
The Sunday Sip: Screw Cap Closures
Q: Does a screw cap mean the wine is low quality?
A: For years, consumers have associated screw caps with poor quality. We are here now to break this wine myth and inform you that screw caps equaling low quality is simply not true.
As of 2021, screw caps make up around 30 percent of the wine bottles on the market — many of which are beloved by consumers and wine professionals alike. Including our teacher and friend, Master Sommelier Peter Neptune, who believes that “all wines should be made with a screw cap closure.” This is because the quality of the wine is not indicated by the closure type.
The truth is that screw cap wines preserve the integrity of the wine better and are integral to modern wine preservation. Think of their purpose as sealing a wine in time. Due to their sealed closure and new technology, screw tops can actually be much more dependable than corks. While corks may be more traditional, and certainly romantic, they vary in their ability to prevent oxidation within the bottle, and are susceptible to degradation and cork taint — which is a combination of bacteria and fungus that can spoil a wine leaving it to produce undesirable aromas and flavors like mold, wet cardboard, or ‘wet dog.’ Essentially, think of wines with screw caps as your less-risky option and added assurance that the juice inside will be the same quality entering your glass as the winemaker intended it to be.
Something to note: bacteria is tough to keep out completely. There is still the potential that it could be trapped by the metal. Also, cork taint does not always happen, in fact it is usually only in 5 percent of all wines with corks. However, with the bottling process being highly sanitized, technically screw caps are still more airtight and therefore less prone to these flaws.
It is safe to say that cork still reigns with tradition and certain requirements on meant-to-age wines. We’re certainly not asking you to break your traditions or reconsider your relationship with a wine key, but next time you’re out searching for a new bottle of wine to try, you can now feel secure in reaching for a screw cap closure!
A few screw cap favorites: