Monday, August 27, 2007

Is the cork screwed?...

When I was in Portugal with the US Grains Council in 1998 (?), we visited a corn farmer there who revealed his real cash bonanza crop was cork. It seems champagne makers were desperate for stoppers for all those bottles of bubbly for the Y2K celebration.

Years have passed and tastes and budgets have changed. Suddenly the idea of (gasp!) screw-top wines bottles is gaining acceptance.
Camp and bad French aside, the lighthearted marketing video articulates a watershed moment in the global wine industry: after hundreds of years of tradition, more and more winemakers are turning away from cork closures — and oenophiles are finally getting used to the idea. Bonny Doon, a boutique winery south of San Francisco, had used Portuguese cork for 19 years, but was losing 0.5% to 2% of its wine to "taint" — the unmistakably moldy or musty smell and taste of a contaminated wine, caused by a compound called TCA, which is sometimes found in cork. So, the winery decided to make a change in 2002. "It's not a lot, but it's enough," says Burke Owens, Bonny Doon's marketing director, of the switch to screwcaps. As the sommelier puts it: "The days of the cork are numbered." [More]

That would be my fault.

Yup. Your loyal correspondent has stooped to E-Z open grape juice. My favorite is a piquant little sauvignon blanc from Middle Earth called Zeal. They carry it at Sam's for about - gosh, I don't really know, but it has to be below $12 because I never buy anything over that.

Anyhoo, it has a screwtop, and this engineer is on board with the trend. We should have done this years ago. But in the face of the obvious efficiencies (one less feature on your Swiss army knife), efforts to make cork harvesting look more "earth-friendly" are afoot.

Big whoop. I just like the juice and the ease of getting to it.


Anonymous said...

For real economy in wine you have to visit a Trader Joe's store which are mostly on the east and west coasts. They carry Charles Shaw wine which in CA is referred to as "2 buck Chuck" since they sell it for $1.99 a bottle with a cork! On the east coast freight drives the price up to $3.29. It is simply a good table wine, it probably won't win awards but you won't spit it out either!

John Phipps said...


I have tried "Chuck" and didn't quite take to it. As you said it's not bad, just not my cup of claret.