Posted by on Nov 9, 2012 in blog, Fabio Viviani's Wine 101 | 1 comment

When we are drinking wine, we are usually thinking about how the wine tastes, what the flavors are made of, where the wine was made even !! But one MAJOR thing that can make or break a wine for some is how the wine is bottled !! Is it with a cork, or is it with a cap ?? Today we are looking at Cap vs Cork, because there is many opinions and myths about why you should use this or that. Fabio will get to the bottom of this !!

Since FOREVER, people have been using a cork to seal the wine in a bottle. People use the cork because it seals the wine from the outside air, and like a salad fork, is part of tradition that some people EXPECT when they are going to drink wine. But why is cork better than a cap?

For some wines that are aging, a VERY LITTLE bit of oxygen inside the wine is a good thing, and with a natural cork this is possible. For a cap or a plastic cork, this is not gonna happen, so that is one case where a natural cork should be used. HOWEVER, when the wine gets no air it can also pick up a funky taste or smell from the natural elements inside the wine that need to breathe.

The most common problem with the natural cork is called cork taint. This can happen to your wine a couple of ways. Cork taint happens when the cork that has been bleached to look pretty has leftover chlorine (that is what is common for bleaching cork) and that chlorine does not like the fungus that grows in the cork naturally. The chlorine and the fungus mix and it ends up making the wine smell and taste weird. Many people say it smells like a wet dog or cardboard. Disgusting !!

This can be a huge problem for wine reputation !! If you are trying a new wine for the first time and you are unlucky enough to get a corked bottle, many people will just say, “this wine is horrible!” and then never drink it again. Then they tell all their friends that it is a bad wine, and they will tell their friends, and so on.

A very popular study tested thousands of bottles and saw that 7% of them were “corked” and had the chemical produced when the chlorine and the fungus combine. That is almost 1 in 10 bottles !! So we can avoid this problem COMPLETELY by using “fake” corks or screw caps.

But when you use the screwcaps or the fake corks, you lose the ceremony and the romantic popping of the corks that everyone has in their minds when they think of drinking wine. It takes away from the wine “charm” for some, but I say the QUALITY of the wine itself should matter more than the cap or the cork that is closing the bottle.

What about the “cork shortage” that you hear about for a reason for companies switching to screw caps or plastic corks? Well, a lot of people are saying that this is just not true. The bottom line is that it is cheaper and safer to use fake corks or screw caps. Only real corks have the fungus problems, but some vintners claim that the corks are also not all the same, so some can let too much oxygen into the wine when it is aging, and some can let in too little !! For the best for everybody, I think that synthetic corks should be made that work the same as the real thing. That way we can have good quality, unspoiled wines that are DELICIOUS !!

What do you think? Cap or cork? Why? It is fun to open a bottle of wine !! Discuss with me on Twitter @Fabioviviani #wine101 or on Facebook!