Monday, July 23, 2007

No More Putting a Cork In It

Is there anything to match the sound of a cork coming loose from a great bottle of wine? Well, there better be. Corks as sealers for wine bottles are on their way into history. Even though consumers resist, the shift to screw caps on wine bottles is building. While still limited in America where only around 5 percent of wineries use screw caps, in Australia, 40 percent of all wine has screw caps and in New Zealand, 80 percent. The traditional wine growing regions will hold out for as long as they can, but the writing is definitely on the cork.

From the wine industry’s point of view screw caps make sense. Bad corks spoil between 2 to 15 percent of all the bottles they seal and that’s big money when you spread it across a $130-$180 billion dollar global industry. Screw caps don’t actually save money themselves. The savings come from protecting the quality of the wine. Now, while this all makes good sense for the wine industry, I believe we wine drinkers of the world should unite and demand a better sensual experience to make up for what we are losing. They can start with the texture of the screw top, the sounds it could make as it is unscrewed, a visual surprise inside the top, maybe such wonderfully designed caps that they become collectible objects of desire – like champagne corks. I’m assuming that no one is going to try to put screw caps on the great champagnes. I may be a champion of change, but that’s going too far!