Ask Wine Wizard

Screwcap Closures

TroubleShooting

Maria Stange — Novato, California asks,
Q

I notice these days that more and more wines on the shelves have “screw cap” metal closures instead of the more traditional cork. In this magazine I notice that you almost always talk about corks. I know some of your own wines are bottled under screw caps (I’ve had Garnet Vineyards and Layer Cake wines). Can you tell us why you make that choice, how do you think the consumer perceives screw caps? Are they still considered cheap? If you make the screwcap choice for your own wines why do you still write so much about corks here?

A
Those are all great questions, let me see which order I’ll tackle them in. Firstly, we discuss corks for the most part on the pages of WineMaker Magazine not because they’re the only closure choice out there available to winemakers but because they’re simply the easiest closure for home winemakers, i.e. winemakers that typically bottle only a few cases of wine at a time, to use. You see, applying a metal screw cap (sometimes called a “twist-off” in the trade) requires a special machine as part of the bottling process that just isn’t available to the majority of folks making wine at home. Sure, if you know someone well in Wine Country and they have a small bottling line with a screw cap applicator machine in-line, you might be able to convince them to allow you to bottle your barrels, but it’s not a machine available at most homebrewing and home winemaking supply stores. If you make wine on a carboy-scale (5–10 gallons/19–38 L) there’s no way that it’s practical for you to put your wine through a winery bottling
Response by Alison Crowe.