Cork or synthetic and screw tops?

Cork or synthetic topsFrom the ancient Greece, cork tops and wine come always together. But it was not until the 17th century that its use was spread. It was the Benedictine monk Don Perignon who had the idea of using cork tops in champagne bottles to avoid that the pressure produced in the second fermentation could expel the tops made of wool and sealing wax used at that time.

As the Mediterranean was the cork oak natural production area, it was naturally there where the cork appeared as the best option to plug wine bottles. In addition, cork was the only material in the area that guarantied the bottle’s tightness, preserving the wine characteristics and respecting its evolution.

However, cork has its inconveniences as well. The most widely known is the production of TCA, the name of the molecule that taints the wine with mouldy smells and cork flavours. It is a biologic and, therefore, a heterogeneous material, which means that there is variability among corks. In addition, it is a scarce material, with a difficult and long production which makes it very expensive.

In the latest times, synthetic and screw tops start being used in its place. These tops are free of TCA, cheaper and allow storing the wine in a vertical position, avoiding the use of lots of machinery. They also have inconveniences: its synthetic flavours of plastic and metal, and the impediments to the natural evolution of wine, but most of all, the short acceptation amidst the traditional consumers who associate these new bottle tops to a low level of quality.

In the case of quick turn products, such as young red wine -as well as white and rosé wines-, in which the time that goes from the bottling till the consumption is short, the new bottle tops are a great option. Nevertheless, this is not the case of aged wines, such as Gran Reserva or Reserva red wines, in which the cork allows the wine “breathing” and achieving the desired evolution.

And you, in which cases have you found these different bottle tops?

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