Emilio Guerra is the Regional Manager for Dreyfus Ashby & Co., purveyors of fine wines. I have known and worked with Emilio for four years; we first met when he was one of the instructors in the Sommelier certification program I was enrolled in. Recently Emilio was a guest speaker in my Food & Wine Pairing class at Florida International University, he took the students on a tour of rosés from around the world, and it was highly amusing to say the least.
I like Emilio’s style and his storytelling ability so I asked him to be a guest contributor to South Florida Food and Wine, he agreed and now twice a month, readers will be “Discovering Wine with Emilio Guerra”
Today we begin our first guest post with Emilio as he talks about the heated wine topic of cork vs. screw cap.
At a recent wine tasting, as I was pouring one of my wines a person commented with disdain, “Oh! that wine now comes with a screw cap?!” I responded with a smile, “Screw caps are Good! They are our Friend!” and here are some of the reasons why.
Let me start out by saying that 98% of wine made today is meant to be drunk within the first three years of the vintage. Except for the great growths of Bordeaux, the Grand Crus of Burgundy, the Barolos of Piedmont and some exceptional wines from California, Spain and Italy, most wines will give you their best quality and flavor within the first three years of their life – Period.
In addition, the cork has been the closure of choice for centuries because it was easy to obtain and work with and it also lends a sense of aristocracy and importance to the wine. However, natural corks only come from one place, the bark of cork oak trees. This type of oak produces a thick bark harvested every 10-12 years and 50% of the world’s cork oak trees are found in Portugal. Now consider Global Warming and the increased demand for this product and you can see why there is not enough cork to go around.
Finally, natural cork is not a perfect closure and sometimes when the cork is defective or shrinks in the bottle it allows air to get inside and taints/spoils the wine. This is known as “cork taint” and unfortunately it is more common than people think, occurring 6-8% of the time. For a producer that does not make an expensive sought after product, loosing 6-8% of his wine is not acceptable. This is the main reason why the screw cap was born.
Yalumba Winery in Australia was one of the first places where screw caps went into commercial in 1976. Later is was adopted by most of the producers in New Zealand which really brought the stelvin cap, as it is now known, to the world’s attention. Since then, producers around the world have adopted this type of closure which helps the wine, the bottom line and the environment.
So next time you see a wine with a stelvin cap remember the reasons why it’s there and rest assured that the wine inside will be fresh and perfect to drink.
Here are some of my favorite wines that come with a Screw cap:
- Giesen Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand – $13
- Yalumba Y Series Shiraz, Australia – $12
- Pacific Rim Riesling, Washington – $12