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Twist-off cork: What do you think?
 Burgundy Wine Company: Great American Wine Sale
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Twist-off cork: What do you think?

MetaCork A full-length wine cork that you can twist out of the bottle without using a corkscrew? I'm not sure whether this is an idea whose time has come, or a solution in search of a problem.

But for what it's worth, a new Napa-based company recently hit the public-relations circuit with word of the trademarked "MetaCork," a product under development that would rid us of the need to master those pesky cork extractors without abandoning the traditional wine cork.

"This break-through product responds to the wine industry's recognized need to make wine easy to open and reseal, yet retain compatibility with natural, technical and synthetic cork," producer Gardner Technologies explains on its Website.

Based on product material on the site, the MetaCork encloses a standard cork in a metallic cylinder that can be twisted by hand, pulling out the cork as it unscrews from the bottle. After opening, the cork can be discarded, and the screw-cap portion of the mechanism re-used to seal the bottle tightly for storage.

Gardner says it perceives "an enormous gap in the marketplace" because no commercial wine-sealing product retains the natural cork while making it easy to remove it from the bottle without accessories. (Actually, a standard "T-cork" stopper that combines cork and plastic has long been used for liquor and occasionally for modest fortified wines, but it's too small and insufficiently air-tight to work well with table wines.)

"Most importantly," the manufacturer adds, its product "will make wine more approachable and will make wine more appealing to non-wine drinkers."

If you have overcome your affection for natural cork because of its non-trivial rate of failure and "tainting" wine, you might wonder why the company doesn't simply promote a synthetic cork or screwcap. As a matter of fact, Gardner has those bases covered, too: The MetaCork can be used with either natural or synthetic stoppers; and the company will offer a MetaSeal product (also trademarked), a high-tech screwcap that looks almost identical to a cork-stopped bottle finished with a standard "capsule."

You won't find MetaCork on the retail shelves just yet, but wines using the new closure are expected to be in production later this year. A story in California's North Bay Business Journal indicated that 1,000 cases each were made in pre-production trials for Allied Domecq Wines USA, Fetzer Vineyards, and a brand called Amusant that's produced by a Gardner sales executive.

If all this intrigues you, more technical and sales information is available on Gardner's Website,
http://www.gardnertech.com.

Finally, just for fun (and because I'm curious), I would like to know what you think of the MetaCork concept. I've set up a special survey using our Wine Lovers' Voting Booth software, offering a short list of responses that range from "Great" to "Silly." This is not market research; in fact, the company doesn't even know I'm doing it. I just thought it would be interesting to sample the opinions of an international group of wine lovers in an informal poll about this new idea.

To join in the fun, and put your opinion on record, drop by the special Voting Booth at
http://www.wineloverspage.com/votebooth/vbmetacork.shtml
It only takes a second to vote! To see how others have voted, you can view the results at
http://www.wineloverspage.com/votebooth/ansmetacork.shtml


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All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.

Friday, April 11, 2003
Copyright 2002 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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