I overheard someone say, “Oh no, it’s a cork and I didn’t bring a corkscrew.” This just shows how times and attitudes have changed in the cork vs. screw cap debate. There’s even been a whole book written about it; To Cork or Not To Cork by George Taber.
You can see a video of this author giving some views on the topic, in which he says that screw caps give an almost too perfect seal that does not allow bad gasses out. This is just one brief opinion, so we asked a few South African wine connoisseurs if it matters to them and why….
David Biggs is a veteran food and wine writer and on the taster panel for Platter’s South African Wines 2011. He says, “I am a staunch supporter of screw caps. I believe wines remain far more consistent under screw caps than under cork. I have tasted several old (10 year plus) wines sealed with screw caps and not yet found a faulty one. I am told by the experts that a well-kept cork-sealed wine can taste better than a well-kept screw-capped wine, but the difference is just too miniscule to matter. Besides, why take a chance on getting a cork-tainted wine? I go for a good screw every time.”
Dieter Sellmeyer, Winemaker and owner of Lynx Wines in Franschhoek says, “TCA, or cork taint has long been a problem, but a winemaker’s biggest concern with cork closures is when you get a bottle that is ‘marginally corked’. By that I mean a wine where it is not obvious to the untrained nose that the wine is ‘corked’ and will therefore be consumed. However, the wine will have lost a lot of varietal character and will come across quite flat, so the customer will think it is a poor wine and will avoid buying it again. Screw tops are an obvious answer, particularly on wines that do not have to be aged, like most whites. There is a more recent addition on the market though, where natural cork is granulated, cleaned with a special process and then moulded into the shape of a cork. The manufacturer guarantees that this closure is 100% TCA free. I believe this is the way to go and one of the main reasons is that the move away from cork has led to cork orchards being uprooted, resulting in certain animals being added to the endangered list; the Iberian Lynx for example. Many people are under the misconception that there is not enough cork to satisfy demand, when in fact the opposite is true.”
Katinka van Niekerk, vivacious food and wine pairing expert and co-author of The Food and Wine Pairing Guide says, “For me it is always the same old story; how does the wine work with the food, or the food with the wine? I am always very pleased to know that the screw cap bottle would (most probably) not be corked and that I would not have to open another in order to do a food and wine pairing. But, but, but… there is something so beautiful about a cork with its wine-stain at the end. So, as in a scene from an old John Wayne movie, when he leaned over the bar after having been offered a drink by the barmaid, I could give the same answer: “I could take it, or leave it!””