One of the biggest arguments among wine lovers is not Red vs. White, or French wine vs. California wine. One of the biggest arguments that you’ll hear among wine lovers is natural cork vs. screw caps. That’s right… whether or not wine bottles should be sealed with traditional cork stoppers, or with screw caps. Each method of sealing the wine bottle has it’s good points and it’s bad points.

Traditional corks are under attack, mostly for the reason that they could allow the wine to become “corked”. That is, the wine reacts with a substance called trichloroanisole. This substance is formed when the chlorine, which is used to sanitize the cork, reacts with a mold that grows in some cork. Trichloranisole, or TCA, causes a musty odor, and a flat, moldy flavor. An estimated 5-10% of wines on merchant shelves are “corked”.

Natural corks are also not always easy to remove from the bottle. With the old spiral corkscrew, you have to put it in the cork just right, and not screw it in too far. And even if you get the corkscrew into the cork just right, pieces of the cork do crumble into the wine.

That isn’t to say that cork stoppers are bad. They do allow the wine to breathe a bit. Their porous nature allows oxygen into the bottle, and other gases out. Some experts say that this is what allows wine to age. Others, however, claim that it is the compounds in the wine that allow aging. One of the other good things about natural corks, is the satisfying “pop” as it comes out of the bottle. A screw cap can’t compare with the drama and romance of popping a cork out […]