The seal in the top of the wine bottle. The way people carry on about it you’d think it was more important than what was inside although I guess that’s a hangover from choosing a closure method that has the ability to completely destroy the product within… Only a cork can make a wine age in the way that we’re used to, but only a cork can impart the horrible taste/aroma of cork taint; the unmistakable pong of disappointment.
Some would say the fear of complete disaster adds to the experience. Recently, Mrs Like This Love That and I went out for a celebration dinner and took a bottle of wine that we’d been given as an engagement present, a bottle of 1982 Leoville Las Cases, a spectacular wine by anyone’s measure. Being great sports, the delightful folk at Church St Enoteca allowed us to BYO and drink it with their awesome Italian. Until it was opened, we were jittery about whether it would be ok – this is seriously uncool and wouldn’t be tolerated in any other situation. Imagine selling anything in a box that could destroy it when you took it out?! Luckily, the wine was in perfect condition and relieved, we enjoyed it over several hours with an epic meal.
The wine world is awash with opinions over which closure is best for a bottle, as is the consumer. Much hot air has been wasted on this subject and I don’t plan on adding to it. All closures have their strengths and weaknesses. It’ll get figured out eventually but for now I’ll work with what I’ve got.
With this in mind, I recently had the opportunity to compare cork vs stelvin (screwcap) on two bottles of the same wine, aged as similarly as possible for 10 years. The wine in question was the 2002 petaluma riesling, and a group of mates gathered over lunch to see what the results were…
And the outcome?
The opposite to what conventional wisdom would expect. The wine under cork looked altogether tighter, younger, and less oxidative than the screwcap. Although in the hour after opening, the screwcap wine changed significantly to become more expressive than at first taste. Both were drinking fantastically and had plenty of life left, Good news for anyone who has more of it in their cellar.
A good reminder as to just how little we all know about the mysterious world of wine! Back to the drawing board…