CORK      VS.    SCREWCAP (Stelvin Closure)

                           Screw Cap- Stelvin Closure

There is an assumption that a bottle of wine with a cork is an expensive bottle of wine, and one with a Stelvin Closure is a wine of low quality and low price. This assumption was true a couple of decades ago, but things have dramatically changed in the wine industry. Many winemakers are deciding to use Stelvin closures because of an increased amount of wine getting cork taint.

Cork taint is a chemical called Trichloroanisole (TCA). A reaction happens when chlorine is used for bleaching the corks. The chlorine reacts with a mold already growing in the cork. Because the contamination happens during the cork sterilization process, little can be done to stop it. The result of this reaction ruins the wine, causing it to smell and taste bad.

The percentage of wine today that is coming up corked is between 3% and as high as 15%. This percentage is too high and too much of a liability for winemakers to not look for alternative options. This is where Stelvin Closures come in to play.

When compared with corks, Stelvin Closures don't have issues with tainting and are half of the cost. However, there is an issue with what is best for the environment. Stelvin Closures are usually made from nonrenewable material, often with aluminum and a plastic insert. This can be an issue when it comes to recycling. There is also the recognition that the cork was the standard closure for aging. The cork allows a very small amount of air to enter the wine over a longer period of time while the bottle is resting in your cellar. We are just starting to see the early results of tests involving Stelvin Closures, with favorable results.

Napa's Plumpjack Winery has taken on Stelvin Closures, using them in over 50% of their upper tier Reserve Cabernet Sauvignons. Along with Plumpjack Winery, select wines from Calera, Argyle and Sonoma-Cutrer are going be placed in Stelvin Closures as well so keep a look out.

Stelvin Closure usage has doubled in the past two years, predominantly in New Zealand and Australia. The French have even joined the movement by using Stelvin Closures in some of their village level wines.

Another note to think about. How many people have Wine Cellars at their homes? The majority of wine consumed in United States is consumed within eight hours of its purchase. This majority is probably around 95 percent. So the big concern is to those consumers who buy wine for aging. The challenge we face is to cellar a favorite bottle for a number of years, plan a dinner around that special bottle, open it up in front of friends and family only to realize that the bottle is tainted in some way and undrinkable. It is extremely disappointing for everyone involved

Then there is also the option of synthetic corks. This does not seem to be a popular alternative because many winemakers find that synthetic corks can give the wine 'plastic taint', and these flavors are difficult to remove from the wine bottle for consumers.

So if you are still carrying the assumption that wine finished in Stelvin Closures are low quality and inexpensive, maybe it is time to revisit them. Pick up a few bottles today and introduce yourself to an enjoyable experience. Stelvin Closures, they are not just for brown paper bags anymore!!!!!