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FAQ: do wines with screw caps age as well as wine with corks?

do wines with screw caps age as well as wine with corks?

While screw caps still have a bit of a bad reputation, in our opinion, it’s undeserved. But do wines with screw caps age as well as wine with corks?

Screw-caps and everyday wine

Imagine you’ve bought a bottle of wine and maybe you’ve kept it for a few years. What do you care about? Probably the topmost question in your mind is ‘Does it still taste good?’

In all probability, a screw cap bottle will keep its freshness just as well as a cork bottle. Perhaps better.

Indeed, that’s why many Australian and New Zealand producers, even high-quality producers like Cloudy Bay, use screw-caps.

They reckon it preserves the freshness of the fruit and it avoids the risk of cork taint from a faulty cork. Although this is less common than it was, it still affects around one bottle in 100.

In the past, screw-caps were sometimes too airtight and this resulted in reductive aromas from newly opened bottles. But newer screw-cap designs allow some oxygen transfer, avoiding this problem.

Screw-caps vs tradition

do wines with screw caps age as well as wine with corks?

There is a lot of tradition in wine and many winemakers aim to emulate the classics, especially if they want to charge a premium price. This includes choosing corks over screw-caps.

Certainly for Vincarta, we ended up with a selection that was all cork-sealed. Not out of prejudice, but because we wanted a high-quality selection and all our producers have all gone down the cork route.

Screw-caps and age-worthy classic wines

Whether there’s  a difference in quality in the long run is harder to say. My personal view is that for wines that you might keep 5–10 years, a screw-cap probably won’t be any worse and might be better than a cork. Beyond that, the jury is still out because of the small sample of properly old screw-cap bottles.

No doubt, the great French houses have libraries of test wine in their cellars with screw caps to see how they age over the years. But nobody has opened a 50-year-old Burgundy or Bordeaux with a screw cap to see how it’s aged because, well, there aren’t any. Yet.

Where do your allegiances lie: cork or screw cap? Let us know in the comments below.

7 thoughts on “FAQ: do wines with screw caps age as well as wine with corks?

  1. I have loved the consistent quality of wines closed with stelvin. I’m looking forward to finding more quality, aged wines with them. Here’s hopes that my favorite Burgundy, Jura, Loire, and Bordeaux producers will consider a partial run to compare!

  2. Brian Loring’s Pinots and Chardonnays are all screw caps. Zero corked wines and I enjoyed an 8 year old Pinot recentloy that was excellent.

  3. I can attest to the 1973 Pewsey Vale Riesling, 1st vintage under screw cap being in perfect condition when I tasted it a few years back, and the 81 making a mockery of the 85 (they changed back to cork in 83 due to market concerns). Screwcap is better for ageing.
    The AWRI has ageing tests on sparkling shiraz aged under crown cap (analogous to screw cap) vs cork going back if memory serves 20-30 years as they wanted to look at anoxic tannin evolution, and once again the better seal worked better.

  4. At Villa Maria Estate, New Zealand we changed to “cork-free” back in 2001, so now have 16 years of evidence (of all varietals ranging from Chardonnay to Cabernet Sauvignon) that wines age gracefully under screwcap, retaining fruit and freshness, with little to no risk to the consumer of taints or oxidation. Viva the screwcap revolution!

  5. I love this post!! I have a collection of corks. Now I know what I am going to do with them, will send them to cork recycling organization CORKCLUB . Let’s raise our voice to save forest, ocean.

  6. Does it then matter if a screw top is laid down or help,upright?

    1. The reason corked bottles are stored horizontally is to keep the cork moist and prevent it drying out and shrinking. I don’t suppose this would be a consideration for screw cap bottles but I would need to do some more research to check.

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