Says the Internet: Corks are the greatest wine closure ever; why use anything else?


After I get the car started, I’m buying wine with a cork. Because of the romance.

Because corks are 19th century technology, and I don’t use a hand crank to start my car, do I?

The Wine Curmudgeon stands corrected. How could I have ever been so wrong about corks, and especially given how how much the cyber-ether loves corks these days?

How could I not see that corks are “the bodyguard of wine, more than a closure?” Or that corks are essential “when it comes to opening a treasured bottle… . the time-honored custom of pulling that cork and savoring the perfume as it escapes from the bottle.”

And some wine drinkers actually wonder why people make fun of us.

It’s the 21st century; corks are 19th century technology. That they’re still used on 70 percent of all wine speaks to how out of touch the wine business is with the 21st century. After all, do we still use a hand crank to start a car? It’s certainly more romantic than a key – or even, heaven forbid, a push button.

Much of the current kissy face for corks is apparently the result of another PR offensive from the cork business (none of which, for some reason, ever seems to include me). We get these periodically, to remind us that we should appreciate a closure that fails as much as five percent of the time and that requires a special tool. Because, of course, that’s part of the romance.

And some wine drinkers actually wonder why people make fun of us.

This is usually the part of my cork posts when the cork aficionados in the audience get red in the face, mutter under their breath, and cancel their subscription to the blog. How dare he criticize corks? Doesn’t he understand screwcaps may be OK for the junk he drinks, but that real wine requires a cork?

We’ll ignore the real wine crack. I’m used to it after all these years. But the biggest fallacy about corks is that they’re the only closure that ages wine properly. Because, as this study shows, screwcaps can age wine, too. They just do it differently.

Which brings us to the point that every cork marketing push overlooks. And why not, since it shows how irrelevant corks are in the 21st century? Almost all of the wine the world drinks – most estimates are more than 90 percent – isn’t made to age. Most wine is made to drink for dinner that night. So the closure, as long as it keeps the wine fresh and from spilling out of the bottle, doesn’t matter at all. But do we use the easiest, most convenient closure? Of course not. We’d lose the romance.

And some wine drinkers actually wonder why people make fun of us.

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8 thoughts on “Says the Internet: Corks are the greatest wine closure ever; why use anything else?

  • By Titus - Reply

    I’m not deleting my RSS subscription, and I don’t mind a screwcap on my vino di tavola, but the anti-cork mania is a bizarre example of modernism’s persistent resort to sneering at customs, simple pleasures, and the benefits of shared experience.

  • By Rich Liebman - Reply

    Tell that to the Bogles.
    Even though their reds are my house wines!
    Have to break out the corkscrew about five times a week.

  • By Robert Arnold - Reply

    Steve Martin has a lot to answer for! Check out the “Muppet Movie” waiter scene.

  • By Richard - Reply

    Why not just use a pop top like on beer bottles? Or infuse the wine with preservatives? Or put in a built in preservation system? That would be the 21st Century… think wine will no longer exist in the 22nd Century… too bad for one’s health…

  • By Patrick - Reply

    Hey Curmudgeon, your figures are out of date. The cork failure rate is way below 5 percent. It’s between 1 and 2 percent, says UC Davis. It’s time to stop hating cork. Yes most wines are drunk the day of purchase, but a corkscrew still adds a touch of ritual to the proceedings. People like that, just as they enjoy reading actual books instead of screens. SO, with the recent improvements in cork testing, the case against cork is weaker. Why not get on board with that.

  • By Bob - Reply

    I love that when I grab a bottle of NZ Pinot, i know it will be good no matter how long its been hanging around my house. I once opened three bottles in a row of a very good Cal Pinot that were all undrinkable. I understand the cork thing, but then I don’t read paper books anymore either.

  • By O.T. Grid - Reply

    If screwcaps were available 200 years ago, does anyone really think that corks would still be used? If so, please advise.

    I drink wine first and ritual is a nice by-product – not an essential by-product.

    Presently, I am forced to buy wines with corks (and some corked wines) because why?

    The percent of corked screwcaps = 0, so don’t give me a bunch of nonsense about how low corked wine rates have become.

    I am not anti-cork (most wines I buy have corks). I know with certainty that once a bottle is opened, I and others care more about the wine, not the closure. A nice wine in a nice decanter makes the lack of a cork a rounding error in the overall experience.

    The best part of a cork is writing on it who I drank a wine with and when. Harder to write on a screwcap, but my phone has a camera to memorialize an occasion.

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