Let’s be honest. During my first few weeks on the job at wine festivals, I could open approximately 1 bottle of wine in 5 minutes. Now, I pull off the capsule and open a bottle in less than 30 seconds — a skill my parents aren’t particularly proud of, built by opening hundreds of bottles under a time crunch. But during those first few weeks, I prayed for screw top bottles. Those would have been so much easier to open, and I wouldn’t have had to travel with a corkscrew in my purse right next to my pocket CPR mask. (I like to be prepared.)
For this discussion, I will leave boxed wine out of the mix and save the synthetic vs. real cork debate for a different day. I’m just going to compare how corks and screw tops perform in terms of what is best for the wine and wine opener.
The best argument in favor of screw tops is that TCA (the chemical compound 2,4,6-trichloroanisole) can seep into wine through the cork. This chemical can completely ruin the bottle of wine by making it smell musty and damp. Besides TCA, air can also reach the wine through the cork, which can oxidize the wine, causing it to lose its color and flavor. These are two of the reasons that when you buy a bottle at a restaurant, they have you taste test it before pouring glasses.
Screw tops extend the shelf life of wine. They don’t stop the wine from aging properly, but they do slow it down. Also, there’s no need to worry about the cork drying out if the wine is stored vertically or the cork breaking while opening. Nothing ruins a great glass of wine like cork pieces.
The only problem is that when you buy a fancy bottle of wine, uncorking it is part of the experience. Unfortunately, though it might be better for the wine itself, switching to screw tops might be bad for sales .
Let me know if you prefer screw tops or corks below!