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A wine-world debate
The pros and cons of corks and screw-tops

01/11/18



 There has been an ongoing debate in the wine business for a while now involving corks and screw-top bottles. There are some of us who feel that cork — real cork, not synthetic — is the only way to go. 

But now screw-tops, which were once only used on cheaper bottles of wine, are becoming more standard. Even “very good” (which is subjective of course, but in terms of cost) bottles of wine have screw tops now. So why the switch?
According to an NPR article I read, screw caps have been around a lot longer than we probably realize but just weren’t as popular until more winemakers started using them in the 1980s. 
Cork, while a renewable resource, is in short supply, so the move to synthetic corks and screw caps was partially for economic reasons.
Winemakers use screw caps on white wines and reds they intend to be drunk young, not those intended to sit on a wine rack and age, according to the article. 
And even the varietal plays a role in this, as some winemakers opt for screw caps and corks for their products, selecting which closure makes more sense. So you may see a screw top on a winery’s pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc but not on its bigger reds, like zinfandel, merlot or cabernet sauvignon. This is intentional. Cork lets a little bit of air into the bottle. For the right wines, this is a good thing. 
Screw caps have their advantages. You don’t need to fight with a wine opener. You don’t have to remember to pack one, either, if you are taking the wine somewhere. Plus, for winemakers, the screw caps can be more reliable through shipment and storage on shelves, according to the article. There is less risk of the wine getting “corked” and thus ruined. But this can be a drawback for many too. There’s a certain elegance and satisfaction to uncorking a bottle of wine. The sound of a screw top just isn’t the same.
The point here is, don’t shy away from screw-top wines, because they are no longer used just on cheaper wines. Things have changed, and some quality wines have screw tops. 
 
New Seven Birches Wines
Seven Birches Winery in Lincoln released two wines right before Christmas: 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2017 Solstice White. 
The California-sourced cab is described as having big, bold flavors with a hint of oak and citrus on the nose. It is dry and medium-bodied and has notes of currant, blackberry and spice with a medium finish. They recommend drinking it on its own or pairing it with aged cheeses or a nice big steak. 
The Solstice White is a non-traditional chardonnay, different from the more common versions you get from California, meaning it is unoaked. Instead, it is aged in stainless steel tanks. This makes the wine light and crisp. Stock up now before summer. It’s a great spot to visit during the winter months. Visit sevenbirches.com for more information. 
 
NH Wine Week is Coming
NH Wine Week 2018, presented by the New Hampshire Liquor Commission, will be here Jan. 21 to Jan. 27. This is something I look forward to every year, as it includes wine dinners, tastings, bottle signings and the Winter Wine Spectacular on Thursday night. 
This is my favorite wine event of the year, where I always discover new wines I like. It also brings together some of the top winemakers from the United States and the world, many of whom you can meet right at their tables. 
There’s a lot to learn during this week, so visit nhwineweek.com for more information. 





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