I know that all in all I am a pretty lucky guy: I have a loving wife, two relatively normal, healthy boys, a job (not much more than that, though), and a rather well stocked wine “cellar”. Therefore I realize that when I rant about something I might come off as a bit of a whiny (on the verge of abnormally) tall white guy that thinks he can get away with the occasional Asian joke because he is married to one.
I get that.
There are a few things that really get me going, however. Tasting Room fees and the obscene mark-ups on wine in restaurants were just the beginning. The other night, after a day of drudgery at work, I was looking forward to opening a bottle of wine for the evening meal. I had purchased the wine a few months earlier and thought it was an incredible steal–the wine should have been at least twice the price (at least that is what the online retailer claimed in the glowing review). I pulled out my second favorite corkscrew (I lost my favorite one about a month ago–let me know if you find it) and quickly decapsulated the bottle. As I was poised to insert the coiled steel of happiness, I was suddenly depressed.
For me, nothing says “cheap bottle of wine” more loudly than the synthetic cork. Even the twist off (Stelvin) closure has more class for me than the synthetic cork since the fake cork means you are trying to 1). be cheap and 2). deceive me.
I get that there are a couple of issues with real corks. First, real corks are expensive–they can cost up to a buck a cork (or more). Second, and much more important, is cork taint. Some estimates are as high as 10% of corks are tainted with TCA (2,4,6 trichloroanisole), but others say that is considerably less than that. TCA makes the wine smell like wet newspapers in your grandmother’s moldy, nasty basement.
I loved my grandmother, but that’s not good.
In my own experience, I would guess that I have had about 3% or less corked wines., so I get it. Corked wines are a bummer, particularly when you have forked out a considerable amount of cash.
Corked wine = Bad
Some claim that to combat tainted cork, synthetic corks were “invented”. The thought? I assume that many out there consider pulling a cork to be a large part of the “experience” of drinking a bottle of wine, so better a fake cork than [gasp] a screw top.
When the “cork” often spins upon extraction and looks like a huge hunk of plastic, well the effect is lost. At least on me. The truth? Synthetics are cheaper than real cork and you have no way of knowing you have been bamboozled until it is too late.
The number of fantastic wines that are adopting the screw top is growing. Off the top of my balding head I can think of three good to great Pinot producers (Argyle, Siduri, and Loring) that put $50-75 wines under the screw. I challenge any of you out there to name one single “quality” wine that has a synthetic cork.
I see synthetic corks a lot like civil unions–they try to do the same thing as a real cork (a marriage), but they are just a cheap imitation, and no one is really happy about them.
Screw caps are the answer.
OK, the gay marriage analogy breaks down here (unless you are a pre-pubescent boy), but hopefully you get my point: If you want an inexpensive closure and/or you want to avoid cork taint, just go Full Monty with the screw cap and people will thank you for it (and you won’t lament the fact that you lost your favorite corkscrew).