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It’s not the quality of the wine – it’s the sound of the cork popping

wine vintagesThe latest cork industry study claims we don’t care about quality, but only about the romance of the cork

Corks almost always score better than screwcaps in consumer surveys, which can usually be explained by the source of the survey: the cork industry. Hence this study, also paid for by the cork industry, but that actually sheds light on all this foolishness. The reason so many of us claim to prefer corks? It’s not the quality of the wine, but the sound of the cork popping.

Can the wine business get any screwier?

British researchers asked 140 people to rate two identical wines. They tasted one wine after hearing the sound of a cork popping and one wine after hearing a screwcap being opened. They were then asked to actually open both bottles and rate the wines again. Overall, reports thedrinksbusiness trade magazine, participants rated the same wine as 15 percent better when served under a cork than a screwcap.

Again, these were the same wines, and the only difference was the sound played when the wine was tasted. Or, as the study’s lead researcher said: “The sound and sight of a cork being popped sets our expectations before the wine has even touched our lips, and these expectations then anchor our subsequent tasting experience.”

So nuts to what the wine tastes like. Bring on the cork popping!

Which raises yet another question – why would the cork business claim wine drinkers don’t care about quality, but only the sound of the cork? That’s incredibly cynical, even for the wine business.

The other thing to note here? Several people will cancel their email subscription to the blog after they read this, which happens every time I find corks lacking. Which then makes me wonder if the study is really on to something.

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3 thoughts on “It’s not the quality of the wine – it’s the sound of the cork popping

  • By alan seicshnaydre - Reply

    Thanks for clinically (I hope) confirming the view of the average wine drinker/taster. However, it is a real mistake to generalize conclusions on this issue and even worse to conflate the ideas of better wine development in the general case with a simple screw cap. My belief is more than some simple theoretical assertion. for example, in most cases an absolute closure attempts to limit air in leakage and therefore development in bottle. It also can be assumed to eliminate TCA a flaw enabled by cork. However, it opens the door for reductive effects on the wine and clearly on some age worthy wines are hardly a benefit. This has been concluded in studies. so be careful with simple/easily digested generalizations. Like most subjects including wine the conclusions that apply depend on the details. in this case i.e. is wine red or white, is the non-cork closure absolute, has the wine been made the be drunk very young where freshness is everything. has the wine maker taken steps to avoid reduction etc etc etc etc. bottom line>>>>There is a time and place for each there are no absolutes here!!!!

  • By Regina M Lutz - Reply

    …and then there’s this story published on 10/3/17 at the U.K.’s Wine Intelligence, Juan Park, “Revisiting Parker’s Cork Prediction” http://www.wineintelligence.com/revisiting-parkers-cork-prediction/

    “In Parker’s prediction about cork, there are too many factors that could affected the market: retailer push or lack of, changes in consumers perceptions and prejudices, emerging markets being more important, regulations at a regional level, changes in material cost and, of course, technological improvements of different stoppers. Parker rested his 2004 argument on the lack of investment by the cork producers to improve their product, but more than a decade later that seems to have changed too – they have deployed technology to reduce the TCA impact on wines.”

    I’m pretty sure the global wine industry — and consumers — have noticed the quality improvement cork producers have made in natural cork stoppers. Maybe you should, too!

    • By Wine Curmudgeon - Reply

      Thanks for the comments. My point has always been that it doesn’t matter what closure is used, as long as there’s quality. I just don’t understand why the cork business treats those of us who want screwcaps as if we need to be checked for lice.

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