Synthetic Corks

synthcork Faced again with the difficult task of opening a bottle of wine sealed with a synthetic cork, I truly would like to know the benefit of these closures. I can easily list what I don’t like about them. It is a hassle and huge effort to get the corkscrew into them. It takes a good amount of elbow grease to pull the “cork” out of the bottle (think holding the bottle between your knees while you pull on the corkscrew with all your might), and then, God forbid you do not finish the bottle (which I must admit is usually not an issue) and you want to put the “cork” back in, you are faced with a square peg/round hole situation.

Synthetic corks are not only a hassle to pull out, but also can allow oxidation as they do not mold themselves to the glass as it changes temperature. Yes, most wines are meant to be consumed young and you won’t find one of these closures in a wine meant to age. But even for those wines with an expected shelf life of less than a year, a good way to shorten that life even further is to finish the bottle with synthetic cork.

I understand why a winemaker may use them. First, to avoid TCA (cork taint). TCA, the taint that can affect wines closed in cork is something to be avoided – it gives the wine a musty moldy smell at its worst, and at its least, dulls the wine’s fruit, leading a consumer to think they just don’t like the wine. Second, because of cost. It is more expensive to use a natural cork rather than a synthetic cork, though not by much.

And what about the screw cap? They protect the wine from cork taint and are becoming more widely accepted as closures for quality wine. They preset a higher cost up front as a winery much change the bottling machinery and types of bottles used. I know some are still worried about consumer views of screw caps, but I think many wine consumers would prefer a screw cap wine to one closed with a synthetic cork. It preserves the wine much better and requires less energy to open. And sometimes we need to get to our wine fast! 

Though I love screw caps, if a winemaker prefers a cork like closure, please just continue to use the cork. My corkscrew and I will thank you. What closure do you prefer?

2 thoughts on “Synthetic Corks”

  1. Your web site provides a pretty awful experience for international visitors. You force me to declare what state I’m shipping to. What’s that about! You also don’t provide a way to provide feedback without registration. None of these is good for good will or community.

  2. J,
    Thank you for your feedback! I’m sure the state question is frustrating for international users. Since we are an online retailer and there are many different state laws regarding shipping wine, we ask our customers to tell us which state they are shipping to so that we can display the products available in their state. There are some states that we do not ship to, and some states where we have a warehouse presence, so products may vary in some states – we don’t want customers to begin shopping only to find out that the product they selected is unavailable to them when they enter their state at checkout! And we don’t ship internationally, so other countries are not listed. But, since all of our wine education and basics are the same no matter where you are in the world, we will look into what we can do to make it more friendly for international users who want to browse. For the time being, just enter California as your ship to state if you’d like to browse products and other items on our site or even become a part of the community.

    Again, thanks for the feedback!

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