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Can screw-top wines spoil or go bad?

MichelinStarChaser Aug 26, 2008 05:48 AM

I was dining at a "trendy" Toronto restaurant on the west side last night.
I was drinking wines by the glass with dinner. I had one glass of Pinot Noir and then wanted to switch. The bartendress opened a new bottle of a different Pinot Noir for me (but one I had had before - Six Foot Six from Victoria). From my first sip, it just smelled bad and tasted bad. When I mentioned this to her, I was surprised at her reaction - she said, "Oh, this is a screw-top and it's a new bottle, so it couldn't possibly be bad." What ever happened to "the customer is always right?!" Ha-ha. I was surprised, because I hinted that perhaps my taste buds were be-fuddled by my meal and someone there should give it a sip, and that's what I would have done if I were working behind the bar, just to check!
I left the $14 glass unfinished (a BIG hint that somehow went unnoticed), paid my 100-dollar tab plus a nice tip, and left.
So...if it's possible, it must be quite rare, but can screw-top wines spoil, oxidize or go bad?
Thanks!

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  1. z
    zin1953 RE: MichelinStarChaser Aug 26, 2008 06:37 AM

    ANY wine can go bad. Period.

    What a screwcap closure will prevent is a wine "going bad" due to having a cork tainted with 2,4,6-trichloranisole (you can understand why it's "TCA," for short). But a bottle of wine -- with a screwcap, a glass closure, a synthetic cork OR a real cork -- can still be "bad" for any number of reasons having to do with storage, spoilage, microbial contamination, and on and on and on . . . .

    Cheers,
    Jason

    7 Replies
    1. re: zin1953
      MichelinStarChaser RE: zin1953 Aug 26, 2008 06:45 AM

      OK - thanks for your answer! (And I know "going bad" is probably not a good choice of words, but that was all that came into my head at the time!)

      1. re: MichelinStarChaser
        maria lorraine RE: MichelinStarChaser Aug 26, 2008 11:26 AM

        "Bad" works as a descriptor. Most important is that you didn't care for the wine, and that the restaurant should have accommodated your desire to drink an enjoyable glass of something. "The wine tastes off," is a good way of phrasing this. Your "bartendress" was misinformed.

        Jason (of course) is right. While "cork" taint (TCA or TBA) often comes from corks, it doesn't only come from corks. It can come from the winery itself (called "cellar taint" in that case) and get into the wine before it is bottled.

        In which case a screw-cap or a cork or any other kind of bottle closure isn't the issue since the wine was contaminated before it went into the bottle. Screw-caps aren't immune from problems either. Finally, if a wine isn't stored correctly after bottling, either by the winery, warehouse, store or restaurant, it will taste "bad" then also -- and again the method of sealing the bottle isn't the issue. Trust your tastebuds, and politely ask for a replacement wine next time.

        1. re: maria lorraine
          MichelinStarChaser RE: maria lorraine Aug 26, 2008 08:38 PM

          Thanks, Maria. I have to say that her reply caught me totally off guard so I didn't react as I normally would. Often the problem at trendier restaurants can be inexperienced staff. The staff at most of my other favorite restos love and know wine, and would have immediately tried to address my concerns. A lesson learned! And at least I have it now verifiably confirmed, by several sane and oeno-knowledgeable sources, that I'm not crazy! Cheers!

          1. re: maria lorraine
            f
            FrankJBN RE: maria lorraine Sep 4, 2008 08:18 AM

            "Most important is that you didn't care for the wine, and that the restaurant should have accommodated your desire to drink an enjoyable glass of something"

            I disagree strongly with this. How many wines does a customer get to try at the restaurant's expense before eventually deciding "This one is okay for me."?

            "Ugh! This Yquem is sweet. I wanted a dry wine. Take it back"

            "Going bad" implies a wine failing, falling from a previous status of adequacy, merchantability. A seller has a duty to replace a wine that is going or gone bad or off, but no duty to replace a perfectly good wine that the customer thinks is simply awful.

            "Really far too funky. '59 La Romanee huh? Won't be ordering that again."

            When making one's own choices, one has no right to demand a wine or even a food that one likes or enjoys. Never ordered anything it turned out you didn't like? Not everyone enjoys sea urchin, but as the old saying goes "you bite it, you bought it.".

            1. re: FrankJBN
              maria lorraine RE: FrankJBN Sep 4, 2008 01:12 PM

              Ah, but the situation you describe isn’t about wine. It’s about a consumer purchasing an expensive item without adequate knowledge of the product.

              In THIS situation, the OP said aloud that something was wrong with the wine. That gave notice to the restaurant of the wine's lack of "adequacy," to use your word.

              Also, in this situation, the OP knew the wine and had enjoyed it on a previous occasion.

              In these situations, and in situations in which the diner simply does not like the wine, reasonable accommodations should be made by the restaurant to provide the diner with a glass of wine that the diner enjoys.

              That means offering a TASTE of a new wine, or a taste of the same wine from a newly opened bottle, as many other threads and posts have recommended.

              1. re: FrankJBN
                Bill Hunt RE: FrankJBN Sep 6, 2008 08:09 PM

                Actually, many restaurants with an extensive (usually "expensive" as well) b-t-g wine list do provide a taste, prior to pouring the glass, or mini-carafe. It cuts down on patrons returning a wine that they do not like, and should uncover flawed wines (though a good bartender, server, sommelier should pick this up earlier and never serve it).

                If I were the sommelier, and was faced with a "corked" return, I'd definitely check it out, in a hurry and in the back room. If the patron was right, I'd schedule a meeting with the server/bartender for a little "class" after work. I'd then head to the patron, apologize, and offer to make things right. I'd first offer another glass of the same wine, and make sure to do some sort of comp.

                If I could not detect a flaw, I'd head to the patron and make two offers, a glass from a fresh bottle (regardless of the closure), or a replacement wine and talk to them a bit about their tastes, as it could be that: I have a cold, or they just did not like their choice.

                Now, I have seen bottles returned, for the reasons that you mention. Sometimes it's because a patron had no idea of what they were ordering, their spouse had a fit when the price was disclosed or who knows. I have benefitted from a few of these. I've had Corton-Charlemagne b-t-g at a really fair price, because someone returned it that night. Same for some really nice Bdx, and a Burg. These have all been "off-the-list" offerings from sommelier friends over the years.

                Some patrons love to order very expensive wines and then try to decline the bottles. They seem to think their friends will think more highly of them. I'd love to know where and when these folk were dining, as I'd get the table next to their's and tell the sommelier that all returns get to stop with me, at a discount!

                I do not think that the OP is/was one of these horrible folk. I think that a flawed wine was served, and the closure was used as as excuse that it could never happen. We all know that it can, though with less regularity, than with cork.

                Hunt

          2. re: zin1953
            t
            tmso RE: zin1953 Aug 29, 2008 03:25 AM

            Hey, thanks for spelling out TCA, I'd wondred exactly what compound that referrs to (athough obviously not enough to just search for the answer). Using the modern naming system, it's 1,3,5-trichloro-2-methoxybenzene (an even better reason to abbreviate it to TCA) ... and looking at that bugger, it's no wonder it destroys wines, yikes!

          3. Bill Hunt RE: MichelinStarChaser Aug 26, 2008 07:41 PM

            Stelvin, or other screw-cap closures, assure only one thing - there will be no TCA from a cork. There could still be TCA, just not from a cork. The wine could be "bad" for all sorts of reasons, and Stelvin will NOT prevent those. Store a Stelvin-enclosed wine under bad conditions, and it will likely show faults. Make a bad wine and put on a Stelvin closure, and it will show faults.

            All one eliminates is TCA from a cork - nothing more.

            Hunt

            [Edit] Oops, Jason said the same thing. Gotta' read ALL of the replies, before I issue one.

            7 Replies
            1. re: Bill Hunt
              maria lorraine RE: Bill Hunt Aug 26, 2008 08:02 PM

              You said it in a different way, and by George, by Bill, by Jason, our OP may be getting it now!

              1. re: Bill Hunt
                Bill Hunt RE: Bill Hunt Aug 29, 2008 06:13 PM

                I just realized that I may not have stated the TCA issue, as clearly as I should have. The elimination of TCA contamination from the cork is eliminated with Stelvin (or similar), but TCA contamination CAN occur from a very few other causes, though these are far less likely. It can happen in a barrel room, or elsewhere in a winery, though not that often. Both BV in Napa and some wineries in Bdx have been hit with it due to construction, etc.

                Stelvin will NOT combat this, should it happen, but the liklihood is remote. Still, it was remote in the cases of BV and Bdx.

                Hunt

                1. re: Bill Hunt
                  maria lorraine RE: Bill Hunt Aug 29, 2008 11:26 PM

                  Just a minor quibble.

                  Chlorine-compounds interact with airborne molds and cause TCA, otherwise known as "cork" taint. The corks can become contaminated before they ever reach the winery, or the winery itself can create "cellar" taint by using chlorine-cleaning compounds. Then the taint enters the wine through the air, the hoses, the tiny holes in the barrels or corks.

                  Certain wood-preservatives interacting with airborne molds cause TBA, very similar to TCA, so similar most people can't tell them apart. (I can differentiate betwen the two only on my best "sniffing" days.) Woods with those preservatives usually enter the winery during construction or remodeling, or something as simple as new shelves in the tasting room.

                  Most wineries in the US are very careful about not creating TCA or TBA by eliminating the use of chlorine-cleaning compounds and specific wood-preservatives. BV, Montelena and Hanzell were wineries who were infected by TCA or TBA.

                  And I will share with you that just the other day in Napa Valley, I walked into a winery cellar, and I smelled TBA. I tasted the wines both in the cellar and in the tasting room, and sure enough, TBA again.

                  1. re: maria lorraine
                    Beach Chick RE: maria lorraine Aug 29, 2008 11:31 PM

                    I love reading your post maria lorraine..I seem to always learn something!

                    1. re: maria lorraine
                      Bill Hunt RE: maria lorraine Sep 1, 2008 11:35 AM

                      Either I'm just getting old, with brain-cramps coming more often, I had too much Zin, before I typed, or the letters C & B (surprised that I did not type TVA) are just too close on my laptop. You have provided the above information before, and I swear I was paying close attention!

                      Hunt

                      1. re: Bill Hunt
                        maria lorraine RE: Bill Hunt Sep 1, 2008 12:51 PM

                        I'm hoping it was too much Zin -- too much good Zin!

                        1. re: maria lorraine
                          Bill Hunt RE: maria lorraine Sep 2, 2008 06:58 PM

                          Hey! Nothing BUT good Zin for the kid.

                          Nah, I think it was just fumble fingers, or a brain cramp. Your granddad is right, they do come more often...

                          Hunt

                2. m
                  mpalmer6c RE: MichelinStarChaser Aug 26, 2008 08:10 PM

                  Sure it can be bad. Most common cause is warm storage conditions.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: mpalmer6c
                    MichelinStarChaser RE: mpalmer6c Aug 26, 2008 08:30 PM

                    Many restaurants serve wine too warm, so I guess it makes sense that it would be stored too warm as well. Thanks to everyone for your replies!

                  2. f
                    farel RE: MichelinStarChaser Aug 29, 2008 04:56 AM

                    The Debate; Wine Cork vs. Screw Top

                    The verdict is still out on this debate for me; wine cork or screw top. When I worked as a wine director of a restaurant group a few years ago, “I can’t see myself walking up to a table and screwing off the cap like a bottle of malt liquor!”
                    “Then what shall I do with the cap after I’m finish opening the bottle?” Now I own a gourmet shop selling wine, I can see the purpose or at least the ease of the closure. There are some customers who want only a closure due to ease of opening, then there are the traditionalist, who demand only a wine cork. After long deliberation, I can appreciate the closure for certain occasions. Nowadays, one cannot carry a corkscrew aboard a plane, so the use of a screw top would be necessary or if on a picnic.

                    According to several independent surveys, wine consumers buy wine sealed with natural cork over any other closures. Another survey of the wine trade, suggested that most consumers think that non-closures cheapen the bottle of wine. Screw caps, on the other hand, are seen as industrial, cheap and lacking the romance of the old "closure" but they have been hailed as the future because there is no danger they will spoil or "taint" the wine, a problem that is said to affect up to one in 10 corked bottles. This raises an important question why would wineries choose to use other means of sealing their wine.

                    [url=http://www.wineclubdirectory.net] Wine Club [/url]

                    18 Replies
                    1. re: farel
                      z
                      zin1953 RE: farel Aug 29, 2008 08:09 AM

                      >>> The Debate; Wine Cork vs. Screw Top <<<

                      Different question than what the OP was asking. That said . . .

                      >>> Nowadays, one cannot carry a corkscrew aboard a plane, so the use of a screw top would be necessary <<<

                      Well, that's irrelevant, unless you know of an airline that permits corkage.

                      >>> There are some customers who want only a closure due to ease of opening, then there are the traditionalist, who demand only a wine cork. <<<

                      Staying with the realm of "serious" wines (that is, ignoring MD 20/20 and Thunderbird), I've never heard of anyone insisting they want a screw-cap because it's easy to open. Everyone I know wants it to avoid TCA. But, yes, there ARE "traditionalists" who want nothing but cork, nothing but the "romance," and "ceremony" of the cork . . .

                      Hmmm, perhaps buggy whips were considered romantic in their day, too: the smell of the leather, horse sweat, and --

                      Where the verdict is still out is in long-term aging . . . I love buying bottles with screw-cap closures instead of corks on everything I buy for near-term consumption. And to be perfectly honest, I don't think I've had to confront the issue for a wine I'm planning on cellaring 5, 10, 20 years . . . yet.

                      Cheers,
                      Jason

                      1. re: zin1953
                        Bill Hunt RE: zin1953 Aug 29, 2008 05:58 PM

                        Jason,

                        Even in International FC, none of my airlines allows any corkage. Too bad, as some really need to work on their wine lists.

                        As I replied above (or below?), I travel with three different types of openers in my checked baggage.

                        So far, Stelvin (or similar) is 100%. I still enjoy the fanfare of the cork, but am getting over it.

                        As you say, time will tell on age-worthy wines, red and white.

                        Hunt

                        1. re: zin1953
                          Frodnesor RE: zin1953 Aug 30, 2008 06:23 AM

                          *the smell of the leather, horse sweat, and --*

                          Sounds like some syrahs actually.

                          I know Plumpjack has been using screwcap since 1997 and last year there was some reporting on a comparison of screwcap and cork ->
                          http://www.napavalleyregister.com/art...

                          Are there any other wineries that have been using screwcap long enough for there to be some empirical evidence?

                          1. re: Frodnesor
                            z
                            zin1953 RE: Frodnesor Aug 30, 2008 07:50 AM

                            Wines have been in bottles sealed with screw caps for some 60 years. I tasted a 1937 Colombard with a screw cap closure in 1978 -- at 40 years of age, it was a damned sight better than a Colombard should be! But I didn't have an opportunity to taste it side-by-side with a 1937 Colombard that was aged on cork.

                            The now-defunct Trans World Airways used to insist on screw cap closures for their wines back in the 1960s; I know Louis M. Martini was bottling their vintage-dated Cabernet Sauvignon with screw caps for TWA . . . and with corks for the public. Same wine; two different closures.

                            That said, Plumpjack was (IIRC) the first winery to release such a "dual" bottling to the public and offer them a choice between the two. They did it backwards, IMHO, by charging more for the screw cap ($5), rather than less. (I would have sold the bottles together, as 2-packs, to encourage the public to serve both wines together, but that's neither here nor there.) I am sure there are dozens of "experiments" that are taking place in individual cellars, but they are hardly under controlled conditions.

                            That aside, wineries all over the world (US, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, South Africa) have been experimenting with screw caps long before Plumpjack did their much-ballyhooed release to the public (and without follow-up by the winery, BTW). Wineries ALWAYS experiment, period. They try out new barrels from various cooperages; they try out new strains of yeast; they try out new vineyard sources; etc., etc., etc. But this is generally done quietly: no one wants to admit that they make this wine using/doing ________, and hated it -- everyone wil question what they did with the wine, and most wineries cannot afford to pour _____ gallons/hectoliters down the drain.

                            This is especially true of something as controversial as screw caps. Word gets out, and it's news! See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/world... for an example.

                            But "everyone" is experimenting . . . .

                            1. re: zin1953
                              t
                              The Chemist RE: zin1953 Sep 3, 2008 12:14 PM

                              Being a wine-maker, my 2 cents:

                              The difference between screw cap and cork will really only effect the aging process and this effect should be very clear. Simply put, the wine won't age as fast under a screw cap. Less gas exchange gives less oxygen and thus less oxidative aging, which is the aging stage the wine is in when bottled. So if you want to put a bottle away for 80 years, use a screw cap... why you would want to do that, I have no idea. If you are not confident that your wine will stand up to age, put it under a screw cap.

                              Cork is an ideal material for aging as it lets just the right amount of gas exchange to gently age the wine. IMO, wine meant to be aged will not age properly under closures that are not cork.

                              The only other effect would be the propensity for spoilage, which is not that huge a deal anywho when working with cork. I know the whole 1/10 thing, but really... who returns or rejects 1 out of every 10 bottles they buy?

                              1. re: The Chemist
                                maria lorraine RE: The Chemist Sep 3, 2008 01:23 PM

                                Just a coupla thoughts:

                                The lack of gas exchange with screwcaps creates another problem -- reductive errors. Some reductive errors are contributory and add nice flavors to the wine. Most don't.

                                Though I've only once been able to compare the same wine bottled with a screwcap and with a cork, there was a difference in the wine's flavor. That was Le Cigare Volant, and the winemaker Randall Grahm used both closures on the same exact wine as an experiment. Lots of discussion about screwcaps vs. cork closures in this CH thread, along with my impressions of the two wines:
                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/490071

                                The wine was a 2005, though, so not the same as a bottle of wine that had been laid down 15-20 years.

                                All screwcaps are not the same. New screwcaps are being designed and are already on the market that permit some gas exchange, much like a cork would.

                                "Cork" taint/TCA/TBA is a big deal for many wineries, whether or not the source is the cork or the winery itself.

                                Word quibble: RETURNING 1 out of every 10 bottles is different from the statistical occurrence of 1 out of every 10 bottles (or whatever ratio you use) being affected by "cork" taint/TCA/TBA. "Returning" a bottle means you've recognized the TCA/TBA flaw, you have the ability to return it (you bought it from a known retailer), and you do indeed make the physical effort of carting the bottle back to the retailer.

                                1. re: maria lorraine
                                  z
                                  zin1953 RE: maria lorraine Sep 3, 2008 03:03 PM

                                  Agreed, Maria Lorraine -- there is/can be a reductive quality with wines sealed under screwcap, BUT it is not always present.

                                  As for the "1-in-10" issue, see my direct reply to "The Chemist."

                                  1. re: zin1953
                                    maria lorraine RE: zin1953 Sep 4, 2008 02:03 PM

                                    Of course, reductive errors don't always occur with screwcaps.
                                    If they do occur, they often aren't recognized as errors.

                                2. re: The Chemist
                                  z
                                  zin1953 RE: The Chemist Sep 3, 2008 03:42 PM

                                  Being in the wine trade 35 years, here's MY 2 cents . . .

                                  >>> The difference between screw cap and cork will really only effect the aging process and this effect should be very clear. Simply put, the wine won't age as fast under a screw cap. Less gas exchange gives less oxygen and thus less oxidative aging, which is the aging stage the wine is in when bottled. <<<

                                  Read the response from Maria Lorraine. The wines CAN (but do not always) show serious reductive qualities.

                                  >>> So if you want to put a bottle away for 80 years, use a screw cap... why you would want to do that, I have no idea. If you are not confident that your wine will stand up to age, put it under a screw cap. <<<

                                  So, let me see, you are advocating putting Vintage Porto under screw caps so that they will age 80 years, but then again -- they don't need to be under screw cap because the Douro winemakers ARE confident in their aging capabilities??? And, to use your logic, you don't want to put wines like Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand or Australian Rieslings under screw cap because they will age for 80 years, but -- do you think winemakers there use screw caps because they aren't sure of the aging potential of their wines?

                                  >>> Cork is an ideal material for aging as it lets just the right amount of gas exchange to gently age the wine. IMO, wine meant to be aged will not age properly under closures that are not cork. <<<

                                  Cork is ONLY the ideal material FOR AGING because it's the only material known positively to let this happen . . . presuming, of course, that the cork itself is not harboring some bacterialogical contaminant or is tainted with TCA/TBA, etc. Clearly there are other sources for TCA and TCB than merely the cork itself, but that IS a definite factor.

                                  >>> The only other effect would be the propensity for spoilage, which is not that huge a deal anywho when working with cork. I know the whole 1/10 thing, but really... who returns or rejects 1 out of every 10 bottles they buy? <<<

                                  Perhaps cork taint is less noticable when the wine in question is made from V. labrusca or a French-American hybrid like Foch, but I doubt it.

                                  There is a HUGE distinction between a) actually RETURNING one in 10 bottles, b) REJECTING one in 10 bottles, and c) RECOGNIZING there is a flaw in one in 10 bottles.

                                  The acknowledged rate-of-taint varies between a low of two percent, as admitted by the cork producers in Spain and Portugal, and a high of 12 percent -- which was the highest rate the California State Fair ever experienced in the four years they tracked the occurances of tainted bottles.

                                  You are using 10 percent ("I know the whole 1/10 thing"), so fine -- let's go with that.

                                  That's one-to-two bottles per case. If -- and I grant you, it's a big "IF" -- 300 cases of your 3,000 case production of Foch were returned by the SAQ (Société des alcools du Québec), could your winery afford that? All the extra expense in terms of glass, labels, cork, not to mention shipping . . . return shipping . . . labour . . . etc., etc., etc. Could your winery afford to absorb the loss of 10 percent of your bottled wine?

                                  This would never happen, obviously, because even with a 10 percent rate-of-taint, far less than 10 percent of the wine ever gets RETURNED -- whether it's to the SAQ, the LCBO, or the independant retailer in BC. And certainly, once the wine is shipped out of Canada, you don't need to accept any returns -- at most, it's a credit off invoice.

                                  The rate-of-return on tainted bottles is far, far less than the actual rate-of-taint. It's like those coupons in the newspaper or magazines. A ONE percent return rate is considered a major success in advertising. My guess is less than one percent of all tainted bottles actually get returned to the retailer.

                                  Certainly that's been my experience as both a retailer, a wholesaler, and as the sales manager of a winery and of an importer. Very few bottles actually get returned.

                                  Clearly the 12 percent of the bottles opened at the California State Fair never got returned. Certainly bottles that are opened in tasting rooms, at winery-attended events, etc., are never returned for a refund. Wine writers, magazines, publications, etc. never return flawed samples. And since most consumers may not even recognize tainted bottles . . . why would they return them?

                                  Even professionals have a difficult time recognizing wines with a low level of tiant. Often the only way to do so is to open another bottle, and where one may have muted aromatics (and thought merely to be closed up or in a backward stage) and a dull palate, suddenly there is a vibrant bouquet, lively flavors and -- yes -- that first bottle WAS "corked."

                                  I have returned tainted bottles, but I don't return every single one. Never have. Never will. First of all, who do I return the 1966 Cabernet to when both the retailer and the wienry itself no longer exist? But more to the point, returning the wine is quite often not worth the effort to drive back to the store, find a parking place, wait for an employee to help you, and . . . then have to (sometimes) debate with the employee as to whether or not the wine is corked or, now that it's been opened for a week, merely oxidized.

                                  So to answer your question, no one I know returns one out of every 10 bottles they buy. But I do know many people ITB who reject approximately one out of every 10 bottles they open . . . .

                                  Cheers,
                                  Jason

                                  1. re: zin1953
                                    t
                                    tmso RE: zin1953 Sep 3, 2008 04:09 PM

                                    I'd add to this that less aware people don't necessarily reject one in 10 bottles as corked ... but they likely notice that something is "off" or "gross" with them. And that has to be worse for the winemaker, because honestly, if I have a nasty bottle from some domaine and I *don't* make the connection that it's only nasty because it's corked -- well, I ain't going back to that winemaker.

                                    1. re: tmso
                                      Bill Hunt RE: tmso Sep 3, 2008 05:44 PM

                                      You have hit a "marketing" nail squarely on the head. I do not know one winemaker who wants his/her wine tainted, regardless of the return rate. One might not know why, just that, as you say, 'something is "off" or "gross" with them.' That means that this person, or those people, will likely NOT buy it again.

                                      Now, I'm one of those "return each bottle" people, but have to guess that I am an anaomoly.

                                      Being a bit of a traditionalist and one who lays bottles down in his cellar for years down the road, I love corks. Still, I hate TCA/TBA and can pick up tiny amounts of it. Half of me embraces Stelvin (etc.), but half of me hates the thought that corks may pass in my lifetime.

                                      I guess that someone will come up with a closure that looks like a cork, but "breaths" correctly. Only problem will be that my cellar will now be so noisey from all that "breathing!" [Grin]

                                      What's a wino to do?

                                      Hunt

                                    2. re: zin1953
                                      t
                                      The Chemist RE: zin1953 Sep 4, 2008 05:08 AM

                                      Jason,

                                      Wow, what a response. I'll just a address a few of the things because I mostly agree with you on all points and maybe I was misunderstood a tad.

                                      I'm not advocating aging wine for 80 yeas with screw caps. This is to illustrate that long term aging with screw caps will not accomplish desired affects. We want our wine to age, just correctly is all.

                                      Also, I don't work with Foch =D It's a nice hybrid, but not my cup of tea. I don't want any spoiled wine, but I also want wine that ages gracefully. It's a trade off, and I would rather have 90% of my bottles tasting great after some time in a cellar than 100% of my bottles not aging properly.

                                      If you look for something everywhere, you will always find it. And I think that a lot of people get kinda obsessed with taint and maybe see it where it's not there. It's all so subjective, isn't it and unless you run it though a GC, you might not ever know. My opinion is that taint is bad, but the benefits of cork vastly overshadow it... it's just so wonderfully adapted to the role that it needs to serve. Perhaps this has something to do with why people defend it so vehemently. It seems to fit naturally into it's role, and that presents an aesthetic quality to a lot of people. If you see where I am comming from.

                                      Perhaps a good synthetic alternative will present itself, but for now, cork it is for my wines.

                                      1. re: The Chemist
                                        z
                                        zin1953 RE: The Chemist Sep 4, 2008 07:52 AM

                                        As you know, human beings are sensitive to TCA contamination in the parts per TRILLION (ppt). Most substances are measured in parts per million (ppm).

                                        While there MAY be some instances of very low threshold levels of taint that result in the "is it or isn't it/may be or may not" debate -- and, yes, to be sure, your options are to open a second bottle OR run a sample through the GC that just happens to reside in your den -- most levels of contamination leave little room for doubt.

                                        There have probably been no more than half a dozen times in the past 20 years or so where someone thought a wine was/may have been corked, and I did not, where the other person was correct. One was at dinner, where the other individual was familiar with the specific wine and I was not. Thus my comment above regarding the only way to recognize it sometimes is to open another bottle. But the overwhelming majority of the time when there is a question of whether or not a particular sample/bottle is or is not tainted, I am the one who is saying "yes it is," and -- overwhelmingly -- I am correct. It may be a mere annoyance at a professional wine judging, or when writing an article, or when I'm trying to illustrate one point with a particular bottle in a class and can't because the wine is corked (but I can illustrate another one!). But it truly SUCKS to pour a 15 year old bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape down the drain!

                                        I have no doubt that there ARE people who see things that aren't there, and I am sure there are people who claim a wine is affected by TCA/TCB when it's just bad wine, period. (The same can be said for sulfites -- far more people "claim" sensitivities to sulfites than actually have them.) But that cannot be used to diminish the fact that "cork taint" is a very serious, very real problem.

                                        You didn't address the issue of what you would do if 10 percent of your bottles actually DID get returned for refunds. My guess is that, were that to happen (don't worry -- it never will), you might change your mind "that taint is bad, but the benefits of cork vastly overshadow it."

                                        Perhaps things are different in Québec, but in my experience, people don't defend cork because "it's just so wonderfully adapted to the role that it needs to serve." And the people who defend natural cork because of its aesthetic -- "I love the 'pop' a cork makes when the bottle is opened" -- a) are opening the bottle incorrectly, and b) have nothing better to say about defending a traditional closure . . .

                                        Rather, it's inertia. Tradition is difficult to change, and cork has been around for sooooooooo long -- whoever thought you would need an alternative? The problem is that cork DOES work . . . 90 percent of the time. It's that remaining 10 percent that's the problem. Toyota wouldn't last long if 10 percent of their cars had to be recalled and destroyed; neither would Apple or Dell is 10 percent of their computers were dead on arrival when you opened the box. But people -- consumers as well as those in the industry -- accept the 10 percent failure rate because . . . well, because they always have. That doesn't mean, however, that they always will.

                                        If it wasn't a problem, the association of cork producers wouldn't be launching advertising campaigns to promote their product while simultaneously spending money to research TCA and how to eliminate it. If it wasn't a problem, companies (startups as well as cork manufactures) wouldn't be pouring millions into researching alternative closures. If it wasn't a problem, estates like Château Margaux and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti wouldn't be using screw caps for part of their production -- let alone wineries less bound by tradition, such as those in Australia, New Zealand, and the Untied States.

                                        Lest you think I have completely anti-cork, let me proclaim loudly that this is not correct. I am vehemently anti-TAINT, not anti-cork. If corks can be produced in such a way as to guarantee my bottles won't suffer from taint, GREAT! So, too -- if the manufacturers of screw cap closures and other alternatives can guarantee my wines won't suffer from reductive aromas, GREAT!

                                        Right now, the "closure" industry is in a state of flux. The old ways of doing things are no longer 100 percent acceptable. But there is no clear, 100 percent acceptable alternative, either! Except for a matter of scale, this is no different than the automobile industry -- old, gas-guzzlers are a thing of the past; gas-electric hybrids are an improvement, but are not the long-term answer. What is? Who knows? Hydrogen fuel cells may or may not be. The solution hasn't been developed yet -- for automobiles and for wine bottles.

                                        I have no problem with winemakers sticking with cork until "all the answers are in." I have no problem with people using synthetics. I have no problem with people using screw caps. I have a problem with people denying there's a problem, or refusing to think about solutions.

                                        If I were the winery owner, I'd be tempted to switch, but I'd be worried about consumer acceptance. I'd end up probably using screw caps for those wines destined for short-term aging or immediate consumption, and "super-firsts" on my reserve reds for long-term cellaring -- and then bottle some under screw cap for the winery's library . . .

                                        Cheers,
                                        Jason

                                        1. re: zin1953
                                          t
                                          The Chemist RE: zin1953 Sep 4, 2008 12:20 PM

                                          For the sake of simplicity, I will respond in to your most recent post in sections, beginning with a quote and then a comment or refutation:

                                          “As you know, human beings are sensitive to TCA contamination in the parts per TRILLION (ppt).”

                                          While I agree with this in principle, I have to point out that the magnitude of the units involved does not eliminate the subjective nature of our olfactory sense. You may be a great deal more or less sensitive to it than me, for example. It makes no difference if it’s ppm or ppt.

                                          “There have probably been no more than half a dozen times in the past 20 years or so where someone thought a wine was/may have been corked, and I did not, where the other person was correct.”

                                          Was this a double blind experiment? If not, then I may humbly suggest that people are much more likely to perceive something if they expect it or are looking vigorously for it. I am not saying that this must be the case. Just putting that out there is all.

                                          “it truly SUCKS to pour a 15 year old bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape down the drain!”

                                          Oh god, does it ever.

                                          “You didn't address the issue of what you would do if 10 percent of your bottles actually DID get returned for refunds. My guess is that, were that to happen (don't worry -- it never will), you might change your mind "that taint is bad, but the benefits of cork vastly overshadow it."

                                          Sure, but as you already said, it doesn’t happen. You could say that I would change my mind about cork if it began giving people syphilis, but it doesn’t, as far as I know. It’s also probably a good time to point out that I said ‘wine-maker’ and you inferred commercial wine-maker. I don’t sell my wine, far too precious =D But I am the one who crushes every grape by hand, nurtures the yeast, presses, ages, and blends every single liter. Believe me, I feel every bottle that goes bad.

                                          “Perhaps things are different in Québec, but in my experience, people don't defend cork because "it's just so wonderfully adapted to the role that it needs to serve." And the people who defend natural cork because of its aesthetic -- "I love the 'pop' a cork makes when the bottle is opened" -- a) are opening the bottle incorrectly, and b) have nothing better to say about defending a traditional closure . . .”

                                          No, see you totally missed the point of what I was trying to say. That may be my fault for being vague enough to let you fill in the blank, so to speak. Let me try again. Things that are naturally well suited for their roles elicit an emotional response in many people. To give a related example: the elegance with which a tree organizes it’s branches and leaves to catch sunlight, or the feathers of a bird… that sort of stuff. I believe, whether it’s discussed often or not, that people often like cork partially because it’s suited so well to its function (not it’s natural function of course, but one we have cleverly given it). There IS something aesthetic about it. If you can’t see it still, then sorry. I personally don’t care about cork ceremony or baloney like that but I can see how people become attached to it. Wine appreciation has so much to do with how drinking that wine makes you FEEL and this is important to people on a very real and tangible level.

                                          “Toyota wouldn't last long if 10 percent of their cars had to be recalled and destroyed; neither would Apple or Dell is 10 percent of their computers were dead on arrival when you opened the box. But people -- consumers as well as those in the industry -- accept the 10 percent failure rate because . . . well, because they always have.”

                                          I look at it this way: As a chef, you know that 10% of your soufflés will not rise. Instead of finding a new way to make soufflé, you accept it and just make a few extra. I know that the wine industry is full of penny pinchers and accountants who want no returned product, but I take a relaxed view point on it. That is, until that premier cru that I have been saving for 12 years is tainted. Then, I’ll get back to you. Oh, and we aren’t talking about cars here, nobodies life is at risk, I hope. =D

                                          “I have a problem with people denying there's a problem, or refusing to think about solutions.”

                                          I am not denying that there is a problem. I am denying that the problem is catastrophic and that there is a better alternative to cork for serious age worth wines. Simple.

                                          “If I were the winery owner, I'd be tempted to switch, but I'd be worried about consumer acceptance. I'd end up probably using screw caps for those wines destined for short-term aging or immediate consumption, and "super-firsts" on my reserve reds for long-term cellaring -- and then bottle some under screw cap for the winery's library . . .”

                                          Agree %100

                                          1. re: The Chemist
                                            z
                                            zin1953 RE: The Chemist Sep 4, 2008 03:27 PM

                                            Let me just address a couple of points:

                                            ************
                                            “There have probably been no more than half a dozen times in the past 20 years or so where someone thought a wine was/may have been corked, and I did not, where the other person was correct.”

                                            Was this a double blind experiment? If not, then I may humbly suggest that people are much more likely to perceive something if they expect it or are looking vigorously for it. I am not saying that this must be the case. Just putting that out there is all.
                                            ************
                                            Most, but not all, have been at professional wine competitions, when one judge on the panel thinks that a particular sample is "corked." I may or may not agree. Only a few times have I been wrong -- that I thought it was not corked and it turned out to be. That is what I was referring to above.

                                            Once it happened at dinner in a restaurant, where I didn't recognize the bottle as being corked and thought it was just "flat," "dull," "backward" -- however you want to describe it. That was the incident I mentioned where I was unfamiliar with the wine, but someone at dinner knew it shouldn't be the way it was . . . .

                                            ************

                                            I know you are not denying a problem exists. No winemaker I know denies that. The question is not whether a problem exists or not, but how (and to a certain extent, when) to address it.

                                            NO winery/winemaker I know has gotten anything other than enthusiastic support for the switch to screw caps, glass closures, or synthetics -- for wines which are meant for near-term consumption. (Again, think NZ SB, Australian Rieslings, French Rosés, and their equivalent counterparts here in North America.) There has been some consumer resistance with wines meant for long-term aging, but this has varied somewhat with the producer and the country of origin.

                                  2. re: zin1953
                                    southernitalian RE: zin1953 Sep 4, 2008 02:09 PM

                                    Zin - with all due respect (and despite the fact that you've been snarky to me in the past) what do you do for a living? You know more about wine than anyone I've encountered. I'm fascinated.

                                    1. re: southernitalian
                                      z
                                      zin1953 RE: southernitalian Sep 4, 2008 03:30 PM

                                      I apologize if a post of mine seemed snarky; it's not intentional . . . honest.

                                      I now run my wife's law office -- she is a Criminal Defense attorney. But I started tasting and learning about wines at age 10, started in the trade at 16, and worked in various aspects of the wine trade (retail, wholesale, import, production [for wineries in Napa Valley and the Santa Cruz Mountains], and in restaurants) for over 30 years . . . .

                                      Cheers,
                                      Jason

                              2. re: farel
                                Bill Hunt RE: farel Aug 29, 2008 05:55 PM

                                Farel,

                                It is a conundrum (and I do not mean the Caymus white blend). I am a traditionalist. I travel with three different cork pulling devices in my checked luggage and a handful of Vac-u-vin stoppers and pump. Still, I have to say that under Stelvin, or similar, I have yet to return a bottle of wine affected with TCA. Yes, it could still be bad, due to other problems.

                                As I still gravitate to the cork, I note that I have three bottles to return, due to TCA.

                                Were I a sommelier, I would have another conundrum. One, of which you speak. What does the server do with the screw cap?

                                I guess that I am slowly accepting the screw-cap, as a fact of life. We'll see how age-worthy reds fare under it. That jury is still out.

                                As for the 1/10, I've talked to a lot of winemakers and have heard figures upwards to 4/10. For me, in non-emperical tests, it seems to be closer to 2/12, but this is with the wines in my home. While significant, it is hardly an industry-wide sample. In the last several years, the Stelvin (or similar) has been 0/?.

                                Yes, a real conundrum,

                                Hunt

                              3. waitress RE: MichelinStarChaser Aug 29, 2008 04:42 PM

                                Next time don't hint!! As soon as you realized it was bad, simply say, "may I have another glass of something different, this taste corked."

                                17 Replies
                                1. re: waitress
                                  p
                                  pietro RE: waitress Sep 9, 2008 04:01 AM

                                  Interesting thread. However I believe that the old story about ageing is a bit overstated. Nowadays all wines are released to be drunk immediately or soon after a short cellaring. Apart for some very expensive wines that are supposed to be kept for a VERY long time, cork doesn't really provide an advantage but only risks. And as the same risk applies to the very expensive wines ( with obviously a much higher cost ) my suggestion is that we all should adapt...
                                  Admittedly the screw cap is a bit off putting but I find the syntetic corks already an acceptable compromise.

                                  1. re: pietro
                                    t
                                    The Chemist RE: pietro Sep 9, 2008 06:27 AM

                                    I would disagree that most wines, except for very expensive wines, are meant to be drank immediately or soon after a short cellaring. There are a lot of lower to mid priced wines from cooler climates that I would stay well away from for at least 5 years. I can give examples if necessary but many are varietals that need time to mellow out. Also, even if a wine CAN be drank after a short time in cellar, it will most likely benefit from some additional age. Or, at the very least it will be different. Some people like to buy a case and try say 2 bottles a year to see how it evolves. Perhaps this would be less rewarding with screw caps.

                                    1. re: pietro
                                      z
                                      zin1953 RE: pietro Sep 9, 2008 07:04 AM

                                      Pietro, you live in my favorite zone within Chianti Classico, and I am a fan of many of the estates there, but I have to disagree with your post above.

                                      While it is true that over 90 percent of all wine is consumed within seven days of purchase, that does not mean that "all wines are released to be drunk immediately or soon after a short cellaring." Rather, it merely means that the consumer does not have the patience for cellaring his or her wines.

                                      Some of the most enjoyable wines I have ever had were low-end, inexpensive wines that benefitted greatly from cellaring: a 1971 Juliénas, for example, or a 1978 Côtes-du-Rhône; so, too, a 1970 Barbera d'Alba and a 1982 Chianti Classico normale* -- each consumed after a decade in my cellar . . . each delicious.

                                      Certainly wines CAN be consumed early, but that does not mean they are at their BEST when consumed early.

                                      As for synthetic corks, some have been absolute disasters -- Cellucork for example. Others, like Supremcorq, have seen mixed results. Neocork seems, in my experience, to be the best of them, but I would prefer a screw cap . . . .

                                      Cheers,
                                      Jason

                                      * FWIW, it was from Castello di Volpaia! ;^)

                                      1. re: pietro
                                        t
                                        tmso RE: pietro Sep 9, 2008 07:21 AM

                                        All? Certainly not! The papers here in France are full of recommandations for filling your cave -- which years you should be looking at for longer aging, which ones for shorter-term cellaring, etc. France produces plenty of wine for immediate consumption, but one of the biggest money-making pushes is this month, when the French buy wine to lay down for 5-15 years. And considering that France is still the largest producing nation, I would say there is quite a lot of affordable wine that is made to be aged.

                                        And speaking of corks ... I bought a bottle of 2005 Médoc last night to try out, with an eye on getting a case. Corked. A nice reminder of the dangers, that.

                                        1. re: tmso
                                          t
                                          The Chemist RE: tmso Sep 9, 2008 07:49 AM

                                          "And considering that France is still the largest producing nation"

                                          Thought that was Italy...? =D

                                          1. re: The Chemist
                                            t
                                            tmso RE: The Chemist Sep 9, 2008 11:07 AM

                                            Huh, googling shows Wikipedia "estimating" 2006 with Italy producing a bit more than France. On the other hand, when Wikipedia labels something as an estimation ... wow, that sounds unreliable. The daily papers here still refer to France as the number one producer, including in the recent articles about how we'll be dropping to n° 2 when Spain's production surpasses us sometime in the next 5 years.

                                            Anyhow, the point I was making would still be valid if we were number four (hi, US!) :-)

                                            1. re: tmso
                                              z
                                              zin1953 RE: tmso Sep 9, 2008 05:15 PM

                                              Since when is Wikipedia considered a "reliable source"?

                                              According to The Wine Institute, a California winery trade organization -- see http://www.wineinstitute.org/files/Wo... -- France is actually the #1 wine producer, followed by Italy, Spain, the U.S., and Argentina. Australia is in sixth position.

                                              In terms of acreage planted under vine, Spain is the #1 nation with the most grapes planted, followed by France, Italy, Turkey and China, with the U.S. in sixth place. See http://www.wineinstitute.org/files/Wo...

                                              Cheers,
                                              Jason

                                              1. re: zin1953
                                                t
                                                tmso RE: zin1953 Sep 10, 2008 07:53 AM

                                                Oh, in no way do I think Wikipedia is reliable. And even with their "standards", they have that statistic described as an "estimation" which to me sounds like "we made this up". Oh, and look at that ... they now have a different list (with France on top) for 2006, still with no citation, though. Since I haven't seen any stats for 2006 anywhere else, I get the feeling someone just made that up.

                                            2. re: The Chemist
                                              vanillagorilla RE: The Chemist Sep 9, 2008 11:12 AM

                                              I think Italy produces the most wine, Spain has the most land under vine, and France is the largest exporter. So, depending on your definition you could make a case for any of them.

                                              1. re: vanillagorilla
                                                t
                                                The Chemist RE: vanillagorilla Sep 9, 2008 11:39 AM

                                                Any way you squeeze it, it's a lot of wine =D

                                                1. re: vanillagorilla
                                                  t
                                                  tmso RE: vanillagorilla Sep 9, 2008 12:26 PM

                                                  Actually, I thought that France had been a smaller exporter (in hectolitres) than Italy for a number of years, but a larger producer (again, in hectolitres of wine produced). More people to help drink up the production, and all.

                                                  But yes, Spain has the most land under vine--not all of which is very productive yet--which is why they're going to move past France and Italy in terms of production.

                                            3. re: pietro
                                              Bill Hunt RE: pietro Sep 9, 2008 08:19 PM

                                              Pietro,

                                              Regarding volume, you are correct. Regarding fine and great wines, it's not that way at all. There are still many wines that are designed to peak long after they are sold. Is this the majority? Not by a long shot, if one is looking at volume. Those are meant to be taken home and consumed that night. Still, there are hundreds of wines, and wine regions around the globe, that are designed to be aged for their ultimate potential. It all depends on the frame of reference, that one applies to the situation.

                                              Hunt

                                              1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                p
                                                pietro RE: Bill Hunt Sep 10, 2008 07:37 AM

                                                Hello everybody.
                                                Well, it seems I touched a point here so please let me try and put things in perspective. When I say that the great majority of wines are released for early consumption it seems to me that I'm stating the obvious. Go back in time to just a few decades ago ( and from the wealth of experience that transpires from the posts, I feel comfortable in assuming that we all have more than a few years under our belts :-)...) and try to remember those wines…
                                                Technology, chemistry and marketing ( I love to say that in the past 50 years we have made more progress in winemaking than in the previous 5 thousands years) have all contributed to the creation of a "wine as a project" reality. Gone are the days when the farmer would just crush the grapes and wait...
                                                So, we really make wines as we want them to be and release them when they have reached a certain degree of drinkability both to spur consumption ( of our wine) and increase "cellar share" and survive financially.
                                                As an example: if you try to make wine with Crushpad the first thing they ask you, after your choice of varietal, is: what style of wine are aiming for? You’re not supposed to say: I’ll take what comes…

                                                Add to this the fact that ALL wines nowadays are professionally made and properly treated and you see how the percentage of "bad" bottles due to faulty winemaking has virtually disappeared while the corked ones has increased.

                                                So, we now have good wines, well made and which don’t have to rely on ageing to be consumed. Some of them could benefit from cellaring but very few actually need resting for more than 5 years.
                                                Do we really want to risk loosing 10 percent of it by insisting on using a diminishing resource like cork?
                                                Just for the “ceremony”? Oh, yes, when I open a screw-cap I too miss the anticipation of smelling the cork with all his promises and warnings. And I’m sympathetic with the wine waiter conundrum ( you smell the cap still pretending? ignore it? send a younger waiter to perform a rite which is not hieratic anymore?).
                                                But, for anyone involved, it’s not a pleasure to find out that the wine is corky and having basically mastered all the other possible inconveniences we should want to solve this problem ,too.

                                                Am I saying that ageing is not necessary for modern wines? No. Am I saying that they are best consumed early? No either.
                                                All wines, like people, benefit from a little maturing. But safer closures don’t totally impede that process which has to do more with how the wine was made and for what kind of market. And, as the better modern closures actually slow down the ageing process this could actually benefit the wineries ( which could suggest a longer cellar life as a hint of a higher quality wine). So my point is that given the cost/benefit equation and all things considered, we’re better off if we accept reality and switch to the alternatives. The sooner the better IMHO. Consumers need to be encouraged and the acceptance by the better wineries will be a powerful reassurance.

                                                Zin, I’m glad you like Chianti but , do you remember what it was like back in the ‘70s? It is now a totally different beast which has gone upscale, especially pricewise, and changed its identity. The average Chianti was lighter and to be drunk within 1 to 3 years. Occasionally longer. Now most of it is released later, after at least a year and a half or two, ready to drink and with some ageing potential. But 10 years ( was it a ‘95 or a ‘97 ?) is not how long I would normally keep a bottle of Chianti ( except for a few of my own vintages :-) ). And I would dispute that long ageing actually improves it much.
                                                Here everybody is a traditionalist and they started using alternatives closures on cheaper wines. But I find this counterintuitive: they should use them on the better wines both to increase ageing potential (timewise if not necessarily qualitywise) and reduce the number of corked bottles.

                                                1. re: pietro
                                                  z
                                                  zin1953 RE: pietro Sep 10, 2008 09:52 AM

                                                  Pietro,

                                                  I have NO disagrement with the statement, "When I say that the great majority of wines are released for early consumption it seems to me that I'm stating the obvious." (your post of 10 September)

                                                  However, I DO disagree with the statement, "Nowadays all wines are released to be drunk immediately or soon after a short cellaring." (your post of 9 September)

                                                  The difference between "the great majority" ("la grande maggioranza") and "all" ("tutti") is a significant one. I believe it was that difference that provoked people's reaction.

                                                  You are, of course, correct, when you write that "the great majority of wines are released for early consumption." The great majority of wines are also consumed early! Several years ago, I came across the statistic that over 90 percent of all wine purchased inthe United States is consumed within seven days of purchase. Thus, all seems right with the world.

                                                  But keep in mind that is a huge difference between the US market and that of the EU. As I once explained to a British wine merchant, there is no real equivalent to California's Central Valley in the EU -- no real equivalent to the California "jug" wine available in 1.5L, 3.0L, and 4.0L glass (as well as 5.0L boxes). Whether its a simple vino da tavola or vin de table, most wines in this category are either sold in 750ml bottles or in bulk -- with people bringing in their empty containers to be re-filled at a local merchant (at least in the countryside). Either way, however, these wines are inexpensive and destined for early consumption.

                                                  Pietro, keeping a bottle of Volpaia normale for a decade was a complete accident, not intentional. But the results were surprising! On the other hand, keeping several bottles of 1978 Guigal Côtes-du-Rhône WAS deliberate, and well worth the effort! So, too, is my placing wines like J.M Fonseca Periquita in my cellar, or 2000 Mas Gabinelle (at $12/750ml bottle -- unlike the $25+ being asked for the current vintage).

                                                  For whatever it's worth, I find the equivalent low-priced varietal wines from California and Australia do NOT age well, or at least AS well, as their AOC, DOC, DO counterparts from the EU.

                                                  As for screw caps, I look forward to their increased use AND the continued research that will -- hopefully -- perfect them as closures for both short- AND long-term cellaring.

                                                  Cheers,
                                                  Jason

                                                  1. re: zin1953
                                                    Bill Hunt RE: zin1953 Sep 12, 2008 08:41 PM

                                                    It boils down to what we mean, when we talk about wine. I'm not trying to be Clintoesque on this, but...

                                                    90% of what is produced, falls into the catagory of "wine." I think that the FDA recommends its consumption within hours of being placed in the container, if one can stomach it.

                                                    7% is "good wine," and it probably sits around, per Jason's schedule.

                                                    2% is "fine wine," and it often benefits from some aging in a good cellar.

                                                    1% is "great wine," and unfortuantely too little of it is actually consumed - only traded, like gold, or oil futures.

                                                    If we rule out the bulk (that term has many levels of meaning), then a majority IS meant to be consumed fairly early. But, there is the rest ,and only one who has known the glories can possibly understand.

                                                    Hunt

                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                      p
                                                      pietro RE: Bill Hunt Sep 16, 2008 10:14 AM

                                                      Bill ,
                                                      I don't know if I can agree with statistical distribution but in any case it just adds to my point: we should use alternative closures.
                                                      As far as the great wines are concerned, I think that they are not great because of (or made great by) the cork. They are great ( and not in every vintage) because of a number or reason which start with the vineyard, winemaker, technology etc. Cork might, and I say might, contribute to the process but at the cost of that 10 % of tainted bottles. The conclusion to me it's a no-brainer...
                                                      And I would go as far as suggesting that (expected to be) great wines be aged for the first part of their life with alternative, sterile, functional closure and only at their first re-corking natural cork be used ( Sorry, I'm taking cover from all the reactions :-) )
                                                      Cheers, everybody

                                                      1. re: pietro
                                                        Bill Hunt RE: pietro Sep 16, 2008 06:40 PM

                                                        Pietro,

                                                        That has been the big debate - whether the closure contributes, or detracts from, the final product of a great wine.

                                                        The data are still being gathered and it might take years, or decades for enough to even do a statistical analysis. It will remain for the next generation (from me) to decide and maybe select with some sense of "getting it right."

                                                        The "statistial distribution" is from my own observations. Maybe some marketing group has done a more accurate study. However, just looking at world-wide volumes, I don't think I'm too far off. Maybe Jason, or ML, can chime in with some hard data. Mine is just from observation, and that is rather casual. Though I did get a B in Statistical Analysis 101 and an A in 102, that was in the 1970's. Not sure that any of that would matter here.

                                                        As for using different closures, that might work, if wineries held production for many years. Some do, but most do not.

                                                        Hunt

                                                        BTW, though a "traditionalist," I hate corked wines with a passion. I worry about my cellar and the wines within. Most cannot be returned now. I hope that the degree of corked ones is below any of the cited norms.

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