Column Ilja Gort: Cork or screw cap

Column Ilja Gort: Cork or screw cap

French cap manufacturer Le Bouchage Mécanique made a shocking invention in 1959: a cap for the lemonade industry that did not require a bottle opener, as with the then prevalent crown cap. They christened this marvel of engineering bouchon à vis, or screw cap.

Ten years later, a bright winemaker in Australia came up with the idea of sealing his bottles of wine no longer with a cork, but with that wacky lemonade cap. Bingo! His wines were no longer infected with the cork bacteria, and white wines and rosés in particular seemed to come out fresher and fruitier under that screw cap than under a cork. Australian and European wine producers followed suit and in the early 2000s, the screw cap began a global triumph. Seven years later, half of all wines in the world were bottled with this lemonade cap.

By now, the screw cap is the norm in Australia and New Zealand. Even with wines over $30, nobody is surprised anymore. Via our Slurp newsletter, we did a consumer survey. It found that most slurpers prefer to see a cork on their wine. People value the romance and ritual of uncorking ('Candlelight and red wine'). Nevertheless, 70 per cent did find a screw cap more convenient, but only for white and rosé, and for wines up to 5 euros. Red wine and wines above 5 euros should have a cork ('Red wine with a screw cap, can't be a good wine').

Curious about the whole column? You can find it in Winelife Magazine, edition #71. Order this one here. 

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