Lookin' Good at 58

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Twist Top Or Cork?

The other night I had a Wyndham Estate Pinot Noir from Australia that was off. Now that may not sound like big news but it was a first for me.

You see the wine had a twist top or in other words no cork. Comparisons have been made on whether wine is better kept with a cork in the bottle or a twist top. The results have shown in many cases the twist top has exceeded that of the cork in keeping wine well until consumed.

With cork being so expensive and a winemaker's efforts in keeping a bottle of wine as reasonable as possible price wise , many have opted to use a twist top or storvin ( another term used for twist top ).

However when does price become that much of a concern? Although there may be an upcoming shortage of cork on the horizon let's not forget that the ageing process will differ depending on which method is used. Yes for sure on lighter tasting reds and some whites that are meant to be consumed young a twist top will do the job , but for any wine that is to be laid down a cork should always be used.

Why you may ask. Well the cork adds that much more complexity to an aged bottle of wine because through cork there is a tiny amount of oxidation that is permitted over time allowing the wine to age gracefully like in a great Barolo or first growth Bordeaux.

Whereas with a twist top there is none and some are worried that the twist top may take away from a great bottle of wine increasing the chance of unwanted flavours over the long haul destroying that wine's reputation. Who would want to take that chance to save a few dollars?

I think you can be quite sure that corks will always be found in wines that have to be laid down for a good many years.

Although I do like a twist top when you are in a hurry and need to open a bottle of wine quickly.

Now what have you noticed out there in the industry. Have you had many experiences where you have had a wine off that has had a twist top? This was my first one.

14 comments:

Confessions of a Waitress said...

I hate twist tops. There I said it. I'm not convinced that they're going to be that much better in the long run... Here's why I hate it. Despite the fact that they can keep the wine from going bad during the aging process I like opening a bottle. The presentation of a bottle of wine is important to me. I personally felt that the synthetic cork was a good compromise. I'm supposed to like how efficient screw tops are. But, they just seem cheap. At some point as time goes on I will probably warm up to them but, not so far.

teleburst said...

Isn't it a "stelvin" top?

Actually, I haven't had a bad bottle from a screwtop bottle, but, out of the thousands and thousands of cork-top bottles that I've opened, I've only had less than a handful of bottles be bad, so I don't know if it makes any difference since I've only opened a relative "handful" of screwtop bottles compared to cork top bottles.

I like the ritual of pulling a cork. I think it adds to the wine experience. Using a screwtop seems a bit bloodless and mundane (and, of course, as a waiter, it's a better "show"). But I think it's clear that for vintners who are producing in volume and for consumption in the short term, screwtop is the safer way to go, especially if TCA, the compound that causes cork taint, is an issue.

I doubt that the great chateaux and domanine of France will ever go to it, because of the very reason that you note - cork plays a large part in the development of their wine and most of their bottles are laid down for much longer than the average bottle. The thing is, TCA isn't the only villian and some of the causes of tainted wine come from elsewhere, such as wood treatments, the effect of using cleaners like bleach that end up getting places that it doesn't belong, even in the atmosphere, naturally occuring molds, etc.

The folks at Wine Spectator have said that up to 15% of the California wines that they have tasted have been tainted to some degree. Now keep in mind that this figure includes even the smallest hint of taint, (these folks are very sensitive to any level of abnormality). So it's possible that I've experienced the same levels of "bad wines", only my guest or I were unable to detect the fact that the wine was bad.

I suspect that you'll be seeing more and more bottles with screwtops but some of the higher end vintners stubbornly hanging on partly because of tradition and partly because they produce wine more in the traditional French fashion.

I might do a post on this myself. I'll give you full credit for the inspiration, of course.

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Confessions of a Waitress...for sure you are right. There is the showmanship that comes with opening a bottle of wine with a cork. The synthetic cork is tough though. I have actually broken a corkscrew with one of those. But with a nice bottle of wine I think the cork will never be replaced. Besides it is hard to put a screw top in front of the guest to sniff and observe.

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Teleburst...you are right stelvin it is. I don't know how I came across the other word but I do apologize to all the readers for the wrong word.I like the ritual too of pulling the cork.

SkippyMom said...

I have never heard of this - to me all "good" wine has a cork.

This is what I like about reading your blog. I learn something new most days. Thanks. :)

Manuel said...

the only wine I ever find that is off is Italian....stuff is so ropey it's hard to believe they still have an industry left...

but I always advise my guests to check the wine, cork or stevlin...always check the wine....nobody listens though

meh

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

SkippyMom...you have very fine taste for wine I can tell. Thanks for reading..

The Veteran Server said...

I've never encountered a twist top at any of the restaurants I've worked at. What I should say is, at the one restaurant where we did a wine presentation with each bottle I never encountered a twist top. I always felt clumsy with a wine key no matter how many bottles I opened with it; yet I agree with Confessions of a Waitress, it seems necessary for a good presentation. At the restaurant I work at now they remove the cork at the bar, and we bring the uncorked bottle to the table. We still pour it for them and all that jazz, but its not really a presentation, and I do miss that.

Long comment short, my restaurant may have twist off bottles of wine, but if we do I am unaware.

♥ Caz said...

I like the show from corked bottles. But we don't get that many wine drinkers (small suburban restaurant, go figure).

I've had a corked wine be off one, quite a while back, so that was interesting...

I'm from Australia so I was sorry to hear the wine that was bad was Australian... disappointing. :(

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Caz...doesn't happen often getting a corked wine.It can happen to any country. Come to think of it I can't think off hand another Australian I have opened recently or in the past few years that has been off.

假裝 said...

Necessity is the mother of invention..........................

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Thank you for your comment and you know who you are because I cannot duplicate your name. Great of you to visit and I will visit yours' too. Wise words indeed , necessity is the mother of invention.

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Manuel..oh for sure stelvin or not they gotta check the wine. Italian can have some old style wines that can taste like you say ropey. Like a snake down the middle of your throat. But to their credit their winemaking techniques are becoming more palatable to most.

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

The Veteran Server...opening bottles at the bar is done in some places but you are right sort of takes away the show. No twist tops yet eh well maybe soon.