Screw caps taint wine as much as natural cork, UK wine competition charges

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Re: Screw caps taint wine as much as natural cork, UK wine competition charg

Postby Robin Garr » Thu Sep 21, 2006 5:57 pm

Hey, Jamie! Good to see you ... it's been way too long, and we've missed your Friday trolls. Hope you won't be a stranger now that you've re-found us.

jamiegoode wrote:Fining in the glass with a copper penny isn't a great solution because it takes out sulfur compounds that can positively contribute to wine aroma.


Granted, but it's probably at least as effective as the polythene-bag treatment for TCA insofar as it may make an undrinkable wine drinkable. I wouldn't be inclined to publish a formal TN in either case.
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Re: Screw caps taint wine as much as natural cork, UK wine competition charges

Postby Victorwine » Thu Sep 21, 2006 6:20 pm

This whole debate now should not be cork (TCA) vs. cap screw, but the importance of, whatever minute amount of oxygen is beneficial to wine as it evolves. IMO over the year’s high quality and functional corks have proven to be the best suited enclosure for age worthy wines. Since cap screw for wines is a “new technology” time will only tell. So until the day comes when some knowledgeable scientist explains the chemistry of bottle aging so we lay people could understand it, “I’ll stand by the cork”.
With this talk of reduction, this makes some sense. Wines stored in containers with no oxygen ingress or minute amounts of oxygen ingress will taste differently from wines stored in containers which allow a little more oxygen ingress. How much oxygen ingress is good? I have no clue. So the focus of this debate among those in the industry has shifted from cork vs. cap screw, to reduction and how much oxygen ingress is good.
As of now if one’s targeted market is the “New World” wine drinkers who enjoys easy drinking, early consuming, fruity wines, and the wines are produced in such a way that produces this style of wine, cap screws are fine. But if the wine is produced in such a way that it would benefit from bottle aging, I think the wine producer should stick with cork. This is just my opinion.

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Re: Screw caps taint wine as much as natural cork, UK wine competition charg

Postby Dave Erickson » Thu Sep 21, 2006 7:49 pm

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Re: Screw caps taint wine as much as natural cork, UK wine competition charges

Postby TimMc » Thu Sep 21, 2006 8:14 pm

Robin Garr wrote:Let the flaming begin! :)

Wine buffs turn the corkscrews on caps

WINE buffs have uncorked a campaign to banish screw caps from bottles.
The move comes after it was revealed screw caps can leave some wine just as tainted as corks can.

Research carried out for this year's International Wine Challenge - the world's biggest wine competition - found faults caused by screw caps are almost as common as cork taint.

Meanwhile, technological improvements have meant the number of wine bottles spoilt by corks is in decline.
The findings have been seized on by wine traditionalists, who hate screw caps and say cork has served the industry perfectly for hundreds of years.

Screw caps, left, are seen by some wine experts as industrial and lacking the romance of a cork, right, which gives a satisfying pop when the bottle is opened.

However, they have been adopted widely by supermarkets because it was thought there was much less chance of wine going off under a screw cap - a problem said to affect 10% of bottles with corks.

Now tasters at the International Wine Challenge in London claim cork taint is in decline and problems affecting wines sealed with screwcaps have been underestimated.

From a blind tasting of 13,000 wines, they discovered 4% of the wine with corks had faults from oxidation or high sulphide levels - giving it an eggy flavour - compared with 2% of screw-cap bottles.

Story in the Glasgow Evening Times online


A passing fancy.

Let the record show....I told you so. :wink:
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Re: Screw caps taint wine as much as natural cork, UK wine competition charg

Postby Victorwine » Thu Sep 21, 2006 9:35 pm

Sue wrote:
Um, Thomas .... if you look at what is happening in New Zealand, it is wine across all price ranges that are going into screw cap, and the same could be said for Australia too, judging by the number of higher priced Aussie reds I've seen in screw cap lately.
Sue

I don’t know Sue if we examine what The New Zealand (and possible the Australian) wine industry has done with this “new technology” (screw-caps for wine enclosures), there like the cowboys of the “wild west”, draw fast, shoot first, and then ask questions.

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Re: Screw caps taint wine as much as natural cork, UK wine competition charg

Postby TimMc » Thu Sep 21, 2006 11:22 pm

OK.

Down Under has gone completely screw cap.

Got it.

Thanks.

Now then, let's apply that phenomenon to the rest of the World and decide if this is the quintessential and majoritive issue regarding wine enclosures for all wineries in France, Spain, Italy, Portugal and America.


I predict it isn't even close.
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Re: Screw caps taint wine as much as natural cork, UK wine competition charg

Postby Hoke » Sat Sep 23, 2006 10:20 pm

TimMc wrote:OK.

Down Under has gone completely screw cap.

Got it.

Thanks.

Now then, let's apply that phenomenon to the rest of the World and decide if this is the quintessential and majoritive issue regarding wine enclosures for all wineries in France, Spain, Italy, Portugal and America.


I predict it isn't even close.


Well, Tim...you may be predicting based on your own feelings, rather than what you know, or what information is out there.

If you delve into this issue a little more you might be very surprised at how much winemakers all over the world are paying attention to the various aspects of closures.

A case in point:

my company works with a major producer of wine in France who sells quite a bit of wine in France, in Europe, and in most countries around the world. We in the US are actually a minor---very minor---portion of his business globally. We had some issues with his wines being cork tainted and we discussed it with him. He went to great extent...and expense... to expand and improve his cork quality control to help limit the problem. Finally, in frustration, he changed all bottles he is shipping to the US from cork closure to screwcap. That's Burgundy, Rhone, Loire and Languedoc, by the way.

We complimented him on doing this...and he replied that he was happy to because he's been doing it for other markets, and he's happy to do it for the US...now that they are 'ready' for it...because it eliminates spoilage of his wine and lots of frustrating QC to help eliminate it. He also maintained that the screwcap, under testing, seemed to be doing a far superior job of protecting the wine so the customer could receive what the winemaker intended when he put the wine in the bottle.

I'll also tell you, Tim, because I recall some of the things you've stated before, that this producer has a long heritage and produces a wide range of wines, from very low priced vin de pays to Grand Cru Burgundies (he's also one of the largest owners of Burgundian domaines, btw). He's not some fly-by-night scam artist, in other words, but a serious businessman and winemaker who sincerely cares about his family business, which his son and daughter are planning to take over, as he took over from his father.

Yet this man is, contrary to your beliefs, deeply concerned about the closures to his wine, and is taking steps to solve what he considers a serious threat to the quality of what he produces. And he's doing it by voluntarily moving from cork to screwcap closures.

You might want to rethink what you're thinking about what people are thinking. Anyway, think about it.
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Re: Screw caps taint wine as much as natural cork, UK wine competition charg

Postby Victorwine » Sun Sep 24, 2006 5:43 pm

Here’s an interesting piece on this subject I found On Jamie Goode’s wine blog.

http://www.wineanorak.com/blog/index.htm

Just to add my .02 cents to what Jamie so eloquently wrote. Being an amateur winemaker I’m very aware of sulfide problems in wine. During the most violent days of primary fermentation, when I punch down the moist twelve inch cap of skins that forms on the top of the liquid the first thing to hit your nose is that “rotten egg “smell (and one would learn not to panic for hydrogen sulfide is a by product of fermentation. Only if there is a nitrogen deficiency in the must and depending upon the yeast strain one uses to conduct fermentation this can be a problem). This smell should not be very strong and should immediately go away and the “new” wine aroma should become fairly pleasant (mostly yeasty however) after vigorously stirring the must. If the rotten eggs smell persists or becomes very strong there are several techniques that one can perform to rid the young wine of this problem.
If this sulfide problem is not detected and addressed early it would lead to other sulfide problems later that are more difficult to get rid of. (One has to use a solution that is poisonous to humans to correct the problem). The hydrogen sulfide will have time to interact with the alcohol forming mercaptans and disulfides. Like Jamie, I believe those who describe these faults as “rotten eggs” (especially in wines hat are three years old) are incorrect or misinformed. IMO these faults will make a wine reminisce of sewage, drainage, sump, burnt matches, rubber, onion, or garlic.
This problem might not seem eminent in a wine stored in a barrel; the influence of the oak might mask the fault. But once in the bottle and now with the many choices one has for an enclosure this fault can now become more pronounced. Since chemical reactions are governed by such things as time, temperature (and heat), concentration of reactants, nature of the collision or meeting up of reactants, presence of other substances, etc. The choice of the best suited enclosure for a given particular wine now becomes crucial
As suggested by Dr Yair Maragalit in his book Winery technology & Operations A handbook for Small Wineries- before proceeding with a cure a test has to be performed to find the exact cause of the problem. The test is carried out with three beakers of 100ml of suspected faulty wine. To the first beaker (#1) add 5 drops (.2 mls) of copper-sulphate solution and mix well. To the second beaker (#2) add 5 drops of ascorbic acid solution (10 g/L in distilled water), mix well, wait a couple of minutes and add 5 drops of the copper sulphate solution, Again mix well. The third beaker serves as a reference. (When performing this test only smell the samples- do not drink them).
•No change in smell in either sample #1 or #2 (not a sulfide problem)
•No change in sample #1, reduction or elimination of smell in sample #2 (disulfide problem)
•Reduction of smell in sample #1, elimination of smell in sample #2 (mercapatan and disulfide problem)
•Elimination of smell in both sample #1 and #2 (mercaptan problem)


To this day the science of bottle aging is still not fully understood. The process of bottle aging still remains an unpredictable process. IMO the day will come when man gains a greater understanding of this process. As a result new technologies will be developed and applied. In other words the process of bottle aging will become more predictable and controlled. The screw-cap might some day be declared the best suited enclosure for a bottle of wine, or it may not... But remember this, for those who think man manipulates wines too much today- what are they going to say tomorrow?

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Re: Screw caps taint wine as much as natural cork, UK wine competition charg

Postby TimMc » Sun Sep 24, 2006 10:18 pm

Hoke wrote:
TimMc wrote:OK.

Down Under has gone completely screw cap.

Got it.

Thanks.

Now then, let's apply that phenomenon to the rest of the World and decide if this is the quintessential and majoritive issue regarding wine enclosures for all wineries in France, Spain, Italy, Portugal and America.


I predict it isn't even close.


Well, Tim...you may be predicting based on your own feelings, rather than what you know, or what information is out there.

If you delve into this issue a little more you might be very surprised at how much winemakers all over the world are paying attention to the various aspects of closures.

A case in point:

my company works with a major producer of wine in France who sells quite a bit of wine in France, in Europe, and in most countries around the world. We in the US are actually a minor---very minor---portion of his business globally. We had some issues with his wines being cork tainted and we discussed it with him. He went to great extent...and expense... to expand and improve his cork quality control to help limit the problem. Finally, in frustration, he changed all bottles he is shipping to the US from cork closure to screwcap. That's Burgundy, Rhone, Loire and Languedoc, by the way.

We complimented him on doing this...and he replied that he was happy to because he's been doing it for other markets, and he's happy to do it for the US...now that they are 'ready' for it...because it eliminates spoilage of his wine and lots of frustrating QC to help eliminate it. He also maintained that the screwcap, under testing, seemed to be doing a far superior job of protecting the wine so the customer could receive what the winemaker intended when he put the wine in the bottle.

I'll also tell you, Tim, because I recall some of the things you've stated before, that this producer has a long heritage and produces a wide range of wines, from very low priced vin de pays to Grand Cru Burgundies (he's also one of the largest owners of Burgundian domaines, btw). He's not some fly-by-night scam artist, in other words, but a serious businessman and winemaker who sincerely cares about his family business, which his son and daughter are planning to take over, as he took over from his father.

Yet this man is, contrary to your beliefs, deeply concerned about the closures to his wine, and is taking steps to solve what he considers a serious threat to the quality of what he produces. And he's doing it by voluntarily moving from cork to screwcap closures.

You might want to rethink what you're thinking about what people are thinking. Anyway, think about it.


Oh, c'mon Hoke.

Walk into any store that sells wine and at random...and guess what?

The clear majority of wines on the shelf are corked or synthetically corked. Screw caps are a distant third.


Give me a break here, OK? Strange as it amy seem, I've bought a bottle of wine or two in my lifetime. :roll:
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Re: Screw caps taint wine as much as natural cork, UK wine competition charg

Postby Neil Courtney » Sun Sep 24, 2006 10:30 pm

TimMc wrote:Oh, c'mon Hoke.

Walk into any store that sells wine and at random...and guess what?

The clear majority of wines on the shelf are corked or synthetically corked. Screw caps are a distant third.


Give me a break here, OK? Strange as it amy seem, I've bought a bottle of wine or two in my lifetime. :roll:


Just curious Tim. How do you tell in a wine shop that a bottle has a synthetic cork in it? This is not to dispute you observation that screwcaps are a distant third, or should that be second? It will be interesting to see the mix in your stores in two years time. I predict that the change could well be more dramatic than you would expect.
Last edited by Neil Courtney on Mon Sep 25, 2006 2:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Screw caps taint wine as much as natural cork, UK wine competition charg

Postby Hoke » Mon Sep 25, 2006 1:55 am

Um, once again, Tim, it seems you're missing my point.

I don't argue that the majority of wines out there right now are cork-finished. Not at all.

But you're steadfastly looking at what was, and not considering what is is different from what was, and even that what is is in the process of change. Fewer cork finished wines every day. More synthetics...right now. But increasingly, more and more, screwcaps. From all kinds of producers in all kinds of places.

But it's okay if you want to stay firmly rooted in the past...whatever that past is. I'm more interested in paying attention to the present and looking forward to the future.
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Re: Screw caps taint wine as much as natural cork, UK wine competition charg

Postby Thomas » Mon Sep 25, 2006 9:13 am

For the record, the following quote is what I posted that got Sue's response and then Tim's response to Sue, and then Hoke's response to Tim's.

"Could be that, since many of the wines going into screwcapped bottles are on the lesser priced end they are younger and so they are produced in an overly anaerobic manner right up to bottling..."

First, I was talking about what I see today--not yesterday and not tomorrow.

Second, I was talking about the American market, as I don't shop outside the country unless I am on a junket, which I haven't been on since I quit the retail trade.

Third, the above is an idea that I put forward to explain the possibility for reduction, and I do know the difference between reductive qualities and the last stop--mercaptan.

Fourth, I have not encountered a reductive problem from wines that have been screwcapped, but the number of screwcapped wines I come across is truly small when compared to cork and those disgustingly annoying plastic stoppers that really ought to be abandoned--either that, or someone should find a corkscrew that is willing to turn them loose after they have been removed from the bottle.
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Re: Screw caps taint wine as much as natural cork, UK wine competition charg

Postby Sue Courtney » Mon Sep 25, 2006 4:38 pm

Thomas wrote:For the record, the following quote is what I posted that got Sue's response and then Tim's response to Sue, and then Hoke's response to Tim's.

"Could be that, since many of the wines going into screwcapped bottles are on the lesser priced end they are younger and so they are produced in an overly anaerobic manner right up to bottling..."

First, I was talking about what I see today--not yesterday and not tomorrow.

Second, I was talking about the American market, as I don't shop outside the country unless I am on a junket, which I haven't been on since I quit the retail trade.

Third, the above is an idea that I put forward to explain the possibility for reduction, and I do know the difference between reductive qualities and the last stop--mercaptan.

Fourth, I have not encountered a reductive problem from wines that have been screwcapped, but the number of screwcapped wines I come across is truly small when compared to cork and those disgustingly annoying plastic stoppers that really ought to be abandoned--either that, or someone should find a corkscrew that is willing to turn them loose after they have been removed from the bottle.


Hi Thomas,
Seems as you were only talking about the American market, it is lucky I pointed out to you what is happening in the fantastical world of Australasian wine.
And for Tim's benefit, I actually said "wine across all price ranges", not "all wines", although he decided to interpret it as the latter in his response.

FWIW, I drink a lot of screwcapped wines, but I have found very few reductive wines with screwcaps, although I have encountered some. Then again, I have encountered reductive wines with corks too.

Cheers,
Sue
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Re: Screw caps taint wine as much as natural cork, UK wine competition charg

Postby TimMc » Mon Sep 25, 2006 8:45 pm

Neil Courtney wrote:
Just curious Tim. How do you tell in a wine shop that a bottle has a synthetic cork in it? This is not to dispute you observation that screwcaps are a distant third, or should that be second? It will be interesting to see the mix in your stores in two years time. I predict that the change could well be more dramatic than you would expect.


Good question.

My experience with the wine itself and the knowledge of which winery uses synthetic cork is the only sure way I know.

Beyond that, looking at the top of the bottle neck you should be able to see if the wine has a screw cap or not....that much you can do.

As to any predictions....the whole screw cap thing has been around for more than five years and to be perfectly honest, the change in numbers of wineries going to that enclosure have been negligible. In my observation, I don't anticipate many more in the next two years...especially in the light of this new information dealing with TCA.
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Re: Screw caps taint wine as much as natural cork, UK wine competition charg

Postby Bob Ross » Mon Sep 25, 2006 9:17 pm

Withdrawn.
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Re: Screw caps taint wine as much as natural cork, UK wine competition charg

Postby Oliver McCrum » Mon Sep 25, 2006 9:22 pm

Tim,

Not sure about your reasoning here. The number of wineries that use screwcaps is enormously higher than it was a few years ago; admittedly that was from a low base, but there has clearly been an enormous increase.

But surely the point isn't 'are people doing it,' but 'should they be doing it?' I suspect the answer is going to be 'yes, for certain types of wine.'
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Re: Screw caps taint wine as much as natural cork, UK wine competition charg

Postby TimMc » Mon Sep 25, 2006 11:55 pm

Oliver McCrum wrote:Tim,

Not sure about your reasoning here. The number of wineries that use screwcaps is enormously higher than it was a few years ago; admittedly that was from a low base, but there has clearly been an enormous increase.

But surely the point isn't 'are people doing it,' but 'should they be doing it?' I suspect the answer is going to be 'yes, for certain types of wine.'


The number is "enormously higher" as compared to what....zero wineries? If that is your position relative to screw capped wines then I agree with you.

I prefer instead to look at the big picture: Compare the number of wineries gone screw cap vs. the total number of wineries world wide.


If I may be so bold, I'm guessing you'll see an enormous gap between the two figures; corks/synthetic vs. screw cap. That is my point.
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Re: Screw caps taint wine as much as natural cork, UK wine competition charg

Postby Oliver McCrum » Tue Sep 26, 2006 3:24 pm

Tim, you're absolutely right. There are enormously more screw-capped wines than there were a few years ago, but it was from a very low base. Just as there used to be very few internal combustion engines, and many horse-drawn buggies; many typewriters and few PCs.

There's no question that there will be many fewer corks in five years than there are now; the only question is what will replace them, and in which segments of the market (all-glass closures for fine wines, perhaps? Neocork for the supermarket?)
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Re: Screw caps taint wine as much as natural cork, UK wine competition charg

Postby Paul Winalski » Fri Sep 29, 2006 12:07 am

Robin Garr wrote:Mmm, possibly faulty reasoning there, Paul. The reductive problems have to do with aging wine in an anaerobic environment, and that is in fact a result of the screwcap transmitting much less O2 than natural cork. There may be some ways to address it, but attributing the issue to "faulty winemaking" sinply isn't accurate.


I'm not a winemaking expert, but what I've read says that studies have shown that properly functioning cork enclosure transmits no oxygen, and that all of the oxidative processes involved in wine aging occur due to oxygen introduced before the enclosure is put on. Ergo, reductive problems are due to the winemaker not letting enough oxygen in before bottling.

But reductive aromas can be corrected (as a previous responder stated, that's what they invented pennies for). TCA can't. So I'm still in the screwcap camp.

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Re: Screw caps taint wine as much as natural cork, UK wine competition charg

Postby Robin Garr » Fri Sep 29, 2006 12:27 am

Paul Winalski wrote:what I've read says that studies have shown that properly functioning cork enclosure transmits no oxygen, and that all of the oxidative processes involved in wine aging occur due to oxygen introduced before the enclosure is put on.


Don't think so, Paul. That's certainly not what the folks at Amorim say. What they do acknowledge is that the rate of transmission of oxygen through cork can vary across a fairly wide range.
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Re: Screw caps taint wine as much as natural cork, UK wine competition charg

Postby Hoke » Fri Sep 29, 2006 12:50 am

Robin Garr wrote:
Paul Winalski wrote:what I've read says that studies have shown that properly functioning cork enclosure transmits no oxygen, and that all of the oxidative processes involved in wine aging occur due to oxygen introduced before the enclosure is put on.


Don't think so, Paul. That's certainly not what the folks at Amorim say. What they do acknowledge is that the rate of transmission of oxygen through cork can vary across a fairly wide range.


That's always been my understanding as well. Cork allows oxygen, but the better cork is supposed to allow oxygen at a slow and very limited rate.
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Re: Screw caps taint wine as much as natural cork, UK wine competition charg

Postby TimMc » Fri Sep 29, 2006 12:55 am

Oliver McCrum wrote:Tim, you're absolutely right. There are enormously more screw-capped wines than there were a few years ago, but it was from a very low base. Just as there used to be very few internal combustion engines, and many horse-drawn buggies; many typewriters and few PCs.


The difference would be the items you mentioned gained huge and long lasting public appeal and in a very short time.

Screw caps continue to struggle for any acceptance beyond a novelty.


Apples and oranges, my friend.

Oliver McCrum wrote:There's no question that there will be many fewer corks in five years than there are now; the only question is what will replace them, and in which segments of the market (all-glass closures for fine wines, perhaps? Neocork for the supermarket?)


I don't know that there will be fewer corked wines....just less than predicted numbers of screw capped wines.
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