• Alexander Smith

Where are the corks? Australian edition

So after another tasting session over, I asked myself the obvious. Where are all the corks? Well most wines produced in Australia use screw cap! But why? Most wineries we visited told us the same story. Historically wineries in Australia were given the corks, that no one else wanted. The high rate of return, due to bad corks was causing issues, and so one by one, wine regions across Australia started adopting screw caps. This way it ensured that no more bottles were returned due to 'bad corks'.

All of this talk about bad corks got me thinking. So why do most of the world use corks? Well some of the wine world has already made the switch: Chile, NZ, Australia and Austria, as well as others are using screw caps. So, what are the real advantages to corks in 2019?

  • Allows for gradual long term aging

  • Historically preferred

That's it, however since each cork is different there is huge amount of variability. I am so convinced of this, that if you took 10 bottles of wine sealed with a cork, aged them 20 years, you would find significantly differences between each bottle.

So Australia (and others) realized there are no real advantages to bottling with corks, so they just started using screw caps. The aging process would take significantly longer, but it would age consistently. You would also eliminate cork taint, and it is cheaper to bottle. So a win-win situation. Some of the top Australian wines, such as Hill of Grace from Henschke now is bottled with a screw cap! However Grange from Penfolds still has a cork, since I was told it would hurt sales to China and Europe. Maybe the rest of the wine producing countries in the world should take note. We don't want to have corks just because we have always had corks. I prefer to have a wine I know will be perfect, instead of maybe 95% sure it will be perfect.

On a final note, how many of us have waited 10,20 or even 30 years to open that bottle at that perfect time to find, the wine is corked. It happens too often. The screw cap also has bad press, consumers relate it to cheap wine. However I feel slowly, we will see, more and more wines being bottled with a screw cap. From my side, I would like to see more screw caps. I would love to hear your opinions on this....

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