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Is it unusual to open a wine that does not have a cork?

cooknKate Jul 15, 2006 08:18 PM

I opened a Marlborough Sileni 2005 Sauvignon Blanc last night that did not have a cork in it. I was mildly surprised, and unsure if this is normal as I am not a huge connoiseur of wine. I know that there is a swing towards synthetic corks, screw tops and other newer forms of capping off the bottles, but has anyone else seen this? The wine was fine, quite good in fact, and I was not in a position to return to the store with it, nor did I think the slacker behind the counter at the liquor store would have had any answers to my inquiry.

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    Darren72 RE: cooknKate Jul 15, 2006 10:56 PM

    I'm a little confused. If no cork, did it have a screwtop? Screwtops are quite common now, esp for wines meant to be drunk young.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Darren72
      cooknKate RE: Darren72 Jul 16, 2006 02:09 AM

      No screwtop, I just cut off the foil and the bottle was ready to pour, nothing else.

      1. re: cooknKate
        Melanie Wong RE: cooknKate Jul 16, 2006 02:20 AM

        I'm fairly certain that Sileni Sauvignon Blanc exported to the States is bottled under screwcap, likely Stelvin. Did the foil seem harder than usual to cut off? Perhaps you cut through the aluminum cap and then the cap twisted off. If it had no cork or other closure, the wine would not be in good shape. Some times bottles do make it to market without only a capsule and no closure. However, the foil capsule alone can't protect the contents from oxidation.

        1. re: Melanie Wong
          cooknKate RE: Melanie Wong Jul 16, 2006 02:51 AM

          It was harder than normal to cut off, and I believe there were threads. I can't recall though, we killed the bottle in the hot tub last night and it went out with recycling this morning! OK, mystery solved....me with less knowledge and you all with what I need.

        2. re: cooknKate
          carswell RE: cooknKate Jul 16, 2006 02:32 AM

          Sileni is moving toward screwcaps for all its wines. The wines for short-term drinking -- and that includes the sauvignon blanc -- are almost assuredly all screwcaped (go to www.sileni.co.nz/index.cfm/contact and you can ask the winemaker or marketing people about your particular bottle). I suspect the capsule you cut away was, in fact, a screwcap (you wouldn't be the first to make the mistake). Does the inside of the top of the capsule contain a plastic liner? Is the top of the bottle treaded?

      2. p
        PennyC RE: cooknKate Jul 16, 2006 02:10 AM

        Most of the New Zealand whites we drink come with screwtops. It is a slightly different system from the one used on non-wine bottles.

        Here's a pretty good article from the Washington Post on the topic.


        1. waitress RE: cooknKate Jul 16, 2006 01:39 PM

          Oh To Screw or not To Screw. Check out Bonny Doon's website, also check out their wines. Delish. But I digress.

          The Stelvin closure (screwcap) is going to be the wave of the future, some wineries won't budge with the cork, but most forward thinking wineries will. Anyone trying to resist, should think of medicine, liquor and soft drinks. The screw cap is the best way for sealing liquid.

          The best trick in opening the screw cap is to twist the neck of the closure the opposite way, break the seal, then screw off the top cap.

          If you are ever having a party with lots of wine- screw caps are the best way to go.

          1. Robert Lauriston RE: cooknKate Jul 17, 2006 05:11 PM

            Almost all New Zealand wines I've seen in the last couple of years have had Stelvin closures, even >$40 bottles of pinot noir.

            I often scan wine shop shelves for screwcaps, figuring that any winery hip enough to use them will likely be ahead of the crowd in other ways as well.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Robert Lauriston
              RCC RE: Robert Lauriston Jul 17, 2006 06:27 PM

              Yes, most NZ wineries are using Stelvin.
              A few PN producers in the Central Coast, too.

              It is the wave of the future and it potentially eliminates that dreaded TCA-tainted or corked wines.

            2. m
              markabauman RE: cooknKate Jan 7, 2007 11:11 PM

              I had the same problem as the original posting. Bought a bottle of an Italian white in NJ- from a reputable shop and from a reputable winery. Had the foil, but no cork! Apparently, from asking around, alas, some Italian wineries appear to have the highest incidence of Missing Cork Syndrome.

              1. z
                zin1953 RE: cooknKate Jan 8, 2007 12:45 AM

                Let's presume -- as I am -- that this was an accident.

                A screwcap-ed bottle will certainly have a screwcap on it, but a bottle that is SUPPOSED to be sealed with a cork (natural or synthetic) can go through the bottling line and NOT get a cork inserted in it during the bottling process. Not unusual.

                The capsule will often keep some or all of the wine within the bottle, but it clearly is not an ideal situation, nor is it intentional.

                1. r
                  RicRios RE: cooknKate Jan 8, 2007 02:02 AM

                  "The capsule will often keep some or all of the wine within the bottle"

                  Well, I have in my hands right now a 2005 bottle of italian wine with a plastic capsule. The capsule has 3 tiny holes on top, evidently part of the design. If there is no cork, the moment the bottle goes on the side it'll pour like the Fontana de Trevi...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: RicRios
                    zin1953 RE: RicRios Jan 8, 2007 03:01 AM

                    Actually, it probably won't. All capsules have holes in them to permit the air to escape when they are spun into place. The liquid generally does NOT leak through.

                  2. m
                    markabauman RE: cooknKate Jan 8, 2007 11:33 AM

                    Actually, that's how I found out about not having the cork. I purchased a mixed case of wine, packed in a cardboard box. I put it in my SUV in the back, did some shopping and when I returned, it smelled like wine in the car; liquid was dripping.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: markabauman
                      zin1953 RE: markabauman Jan 8, 2007 02:40 PM

                      [Side note: I worked in the California wine trade for 35+ years.]

                      I've opened plenty of boxes in my day (with the bottled upside-down within the case), and have one bottle completely empty, the cardboard dry -- but with tell-tale sides it was once wet -- and that unmistakable smell of old, spilled wine eminating from the box . . . .

                      I've ALSO opened plenty of boxes (and bottles) with no cork in the neck and anywhere between 50-100% of the wine still within the bottle!

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