Replacing corks with screw tops?

Stephen Bainbridge, a man whose legal and political writing I admire (and whom I personally like a lot), and whose knowledge and judgment on wine is equally formidable, has come out foursquare in favor of wineries conveting to screwtop closures for wine bottles.

Many fine California and Australia wineries are now experimenting with the Stelvin closure. In my experience, wines capped with screw tops taste just as good as those closed with corks and, of course, loads better than those closed with tainted corks.

Believe me, he has the palate to know. And he is not shy about sharing unfavorable opinions. Steve also agrees with another writer who says he admires wineries which dare to put premium wine in bottle swith screw caps, and wants to support them. I wish both of them well int his endeavor to make it safe for wineries to use the obviously superior technology of the screw top.

But let me speak with the perspective of a part—owner of a small boutique winery.

We would aboslutely love to bottle our wines with screw tops, the Stelvin Closure. They are cheaper and better. We use premium quality corks (the densest type) from Portugal. They cost a lot, and so do the foil caps which go on top of the bottles. It is a lot of extra trouble during the bottling process, too. If you load the foil caps wrong, you ruin a lot of them. Once crushed, bent or folded, they must be thrown away. The corks have to be custom—printed with our name. Friends from higher volume wineries are sent on inspection tours to Portugal, where they inspect the beaches and restaurants in addition to the cork industry. The margins in the business have to be pretty healthy to support that kind of lagniappe.

But as a small winery with which most consumers are unacquanited, we would be committing suicide. It is hard enough to get people to pay $20 or more for a bottle of wine. They want to think they are getting a quality product for that amount of hard—earned scratch.

A winery with a well—established brand name can afford to experiment with a closure associated with cheap wine in the public's mind; we cannot.

So as soon as the public realizes that good wine can come with a screw top closure, we will sell it that way. But not before. America, awake!

Thomas Lifson  12 12 05

Stephen Bainbridge, a man whose legal and political writing I admire (and whom I personally like a lot), and whose knowledge and judgment on wine is equally formidable, has come out foursquare in favor of wineries conveting to screwtop closures for wine bottles.

Many fine California and Australia wineries are now experimenting with the Stelvin closure. In my experience, wines capped with screw tops taste just as good as those closed with corks and, of course, loads better than those closed with tainted corks.

Believe me, he has the palate to know. And he is not shy about sharing unfavorable opinions. Steve also agrees with another writer who says he admires wineries which dare to put premium wine in bottle swith screw caps, and wants to support them. I wish both of them well int his endeavor to make it safe for wineries to use the obviously superior technology of the screw top.

But let me speak with the perspective of a part—owner of a small boutique winery.

We would aboslutely love to bottle our wines with screw tops, the Stelvin Closure. They are cheaper and better. We use premium quality corks (the densest type) from Portugal. They cost a lot, and so do the foil caps which go on top of the bottles. It is a lot of extra trouble during the bottling process, too. If you load the foil caps wrong, you ruin a lot of them. Once crushed, bent or folded, they must be thrown away. The corks have to be custom—printed with our name. Friends from higher volume wineries are sent on inspection tours to Portugal, where they inspect the beaches and restaurants in addition to the cork industry. The margins in the business have to be pretty healthy to support that kind of lagniappe.

But as a small winery with which most consumers are unacquanited, we would be committing suicide. It is hard enough to get people to pay $20 or more for a bottle of wine. They want to think they are getting a quality product for that amount of hard—earned scratch.

A winery with a well—established brand name can afford to experiment with a closure associated with cheap wine in the public's mind; we cannot.

So as soon as the public realizes that good wine can come with a screw top closure, we will sell it that way. But not before. America, awake!

Thomas Lifson  12 12 05