Tag Archives: wine closures

Will wine ever move past the 750 ml bottle and cork?

750 ml bottle and cork

Why change? We’re talking 17th century cutting technology here, aren’t we?

The 750 ml bottle and cork – why is it still with us, and will we ever move past it?

Those are the two questions I look at in a free-lance article for the Spirited trade magazine. The answer to the first question is rooted in wine history, tradition, and even innovation. As wine marketer Paul Tincknell points out, the cork and bottle was cutting edge technology in the 17th century.

The answer to the second question, refreshingly, is yes — and perhaps sooner than we think.

Daniel Tripolitano, director strategy, innovation and insights, global marketing for Treasury Wine Estates, says a change is going to come. He isn’t quite sure when or what the change will be. But in an era when consumers are less enamored of romance and tradition and more concerned about convenience and sustainability, something different is almost inevitable.

Also worth noting: As baby boomers give way to younger wine drinkers, dinner becomes less important as an occasion. The bottle-and-cork isn’t as well suited to a picnic, boating, or day at the beach as is a can, box, or PET bottle. And what happens if you forget the corkscrew?

“That’s where the disruption is going to come,” says Tripolitano. “That’s the compelling proposition that’s going to drive [a change in packaging].”

And a tip o’ the Curmudgeon’s fedora to Spirited editor Alexandra Russell, who bought the story. She understands that trade magazine journalism doesn’t have to be dull and boring.

Photo: “_6271259” by pianowow is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 

Corks: The most dangerous wine closure in the world

Watch this video, and you’ll understand how dangerous corks are

The Wine Curmudgeon will make no other comment on the following, other than this: “This young man would not have nearly blown up his kitchen if all wines had screwcaps.”

The complete story is here, via BuzzFeed. Lawrence Guo of San Leandro, Calif., wanted to open a bottle of rose, but his corkscrew broke. Disaster then ensued. He tried opening the bottle with a lighter, similar to a video he had seen on YouTube (and which we have detailed here).

When that didn’t work, he used the flame on a gas stove. The results were, in Guo’s words, disastrous – “we could have died,” he said. The bottle shattered, glass flew everywhere, and Guo and his friend were lucky to avoid injury.

He offers a lengthy explanation about what went wrong, quoting thermal shock, molecular vapor expansion, and vapor pressure. But we know the real reason.

Corks.

“We tried everything we could to open it, but the cork wouldn’t budge,” Guo told Buzzfeed. “I would advise to wear some better protective gear covering vital body parts if this were to be replicated.”

None of which you need with a screwcap.

Winebits 501: Wine closures edition

wine closuresThis week’s wine news: All about wine closures, including a Coravin for screwcaps, a brain wave test, and wine condoms

Even for screwcaps: The Coravin, the $300 wine opener that made a huge impression with wine geeks, restaurants, and the Winestream Media, will debut a product for screwcap wines later this year. This is an intriguing development, given that screwcap wines aren’t supposed to require a pricey opener. Because, after all, they’re screwcaps. But the company saw a need, so developed a product that works with the metal caps. The catch? You need the $300 Coravin and a package of $30 proprietary screwcaps to make it work – which is more than I would spend. But the system claims to keep the wine fresh for up to three months, which sounds more like something for a restaurant than the Wine Curmudgeon’s house. Opened wine doesn’t last three days, let alone three months.

Corks vs. screwcaps: Oxford University researchers will study wine drinkers’ brains while they sip to determine whether wine tastes better if it’s closed with corks or screw caps. The story, though touting brain wave machines, doesn’t say if the wine drinkers will taste the wine blind or if they’ll know ahead of time whether the wine has a cork or a screwcap, something that would make a tremendous difference given the prejudice against screwcaps. In addition, the study is being sponsored by a cork trade group, and we know what that means, don’t we?

Such a prophylactic: Yes, wine condoms. The idea is to slip them over the bottle opening just like one would slip a Trojan on a man. The product is supposed to make leftover wine easier to store in the refrigerator; however, I didn’t ask for a sample from the publicist who sent the email. For one thing, I rarely have leftover wine to put away. For another, screwcaps. For a third, if I liked the product, I’d have to write about it. And I’ve been writing long enough to know how difficult that would be to do without resorting to juvenile antics. The prose on the website is bad enough.

Winebits 492: Corks, wine trends, wine gadgets

wine trendsThis week’s wine news: Another winemaker says corks are outdated, plus more silly wine trends and wine gadgets

One more for our side: Cork is “a completely outdated“ technology, says a top Australian winemaker. Thedrinksbusiness website reports that Kym Milne, chief winemaker at Bird in Hand in the Adelaide Hills, told the London Wine Fair that “As wines age cork gives enormous variability – try 12 bottles from the same case and you’ll have 12 different wines. There’s too much variation from putting a piece of wood in the end of a bottle.” Needless to say, all of the wines at Bird in Hand – including the US$70 Nest Egg shiraz – use screwcaps.

Who knew? Who says sommeliers can be stuffy and are out of touch with ordinary wine drinkers? That certainly isn’t the case for the trio of wine professionals who appeared in this Food & Wine article about wine trends, which included the dreaded blue wine. They didn’t exactly hate blue wine, which surprised me, but I was impressed with this: “The trend of making wine for people who hate wine confounds me.” Welcome to the wine business, pal, where that seems to be the goal entirely too often.

Who is kidding who? How do you not get drunk? Don’t drink too much wine. Unless, of course, you’re an entrepreneur in Dallas who says you should put his magic wand in your booze. Read the story at the link at your peril; I don’t have the energy to comment on it. What I do know is that I have many better things to do with $25 – or even $70 – that the gizmo costs. Many, many, many better things.

wine closures

Consumers appreciate screwcaps more than we know

screwcaps

Screwcaps and fireplaces? Yes, there’s a link.

The Wine Curmudgeon’s long battle for screwcaps has had its ups and downs, and I’ll admit I get discouraged. It’s difficult enough tasting as much bad wine as I do, but when you have to struggle with a cork first? Talk about hitting yourself in the head with a brick and not knowing enough to stop.

Still, there have been bright spots despite the backlash against screwcaps over the past several years, be it chatting with the Doon Master or this, from someone who appears to be a 29-year-old, fairly ordinary wine drinker who wasn’t even talking about wine at the time:

The worst part of it is, I ?m burning [wood in a fireplace] not for heat, but for aesthetics. It ?s like, ?Wait, this is actually pretty hypocritical. ? It ?s very similar to the idea of a cork in a wine bottle instead of a screw top.

Thank you, Ryan Matzner of New York City. And a tip o’ the Curmudgeon’s fedora to Vivian Yee of the New York Times, who was savvy enough to recognize a great quote when she heard one. That’s newspapering the way it’s supposed to be done.

Winebits 293: Wine packaging edition

? The Coravin 1000: How big a deal is the Coravin, which lets consumers drink wine from a bottle with a cork without removing the cork? It has not only been a hit on Twitter and the wine blogs, but made CNET, which is usually reserved for flashy electronics. The system uses a thin hollow needle to pierce the cork, which makes an opening for pouring the wine, and the cork reseals after the needle is pulled out. Meanwhile, argon is inserted into the bottle through the needle so oxygen never touches the wine, and so the wine won ?t oxidize. The words magical have been thrown around a lot, though the $299 price tag may speak to its efficiency as much as magic. The Wine Curmudgeon ?s antipathy for wine gadgets is well known; is the Coravin worth $30 bottles of great $10 wine?

? Anything but glass: My old pal Tina Danze at The Dallas Morning News did herself proud with this effort, in which the newspaper ?s tasting panel searched for summer wine that came in something other than a traditional bottle. The result? 10 wines that passed master with a very exacting panel, most of whom I have judged or tasted with. No surprise that Yellow + Blue made the cut, as did Black Box, but so did wine in a can, wine in a pouch, and several plastic bottles.

? The romance of cork: The Wine Curmudgeon has had his disagreements with wine corks and cork supporters (who can forget when the cork marketing type canceled his email version of the blog after this?), but I try to be fair. Cork does a nice job for 18th century technology. And it is so romantic, as this slideshow from the drinks business trade magazine demonstrates. It ?s really romantic. Of course, if wine was only about romance, we ?d still be making it the way they did in the 18th century.

Bicycle pumps and screwcaps

We've run a variety of videos on the blog featuring unique ways to open a wine bottle. Oddly enough, many of the people in the videos, whether sabering a Champagne bottle, using a pliers to pull out a screw embedded in a cork, or bashing a bottle against a wall, have not been completely sober.

This video, however (courtesy of Household Hacker on YouTube) may be the best yet. For one thing, the guy opening the wine is completely sober. For another, he offers seven alternatives to a cork screw — one of which involves a bicycle pump. Frankly, that makes sabering seem almost irrelevant.

He is missing the eighth — and best — way, however. That's a screwcap, and the wine business has finally started doing studies to figure out where screwcaps works best and how to best use them. That may even be better than the bicycle pump.