Unwined: Are Wines Better Sealed with Corks or Screw Caps?
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Unwined: Are Wines Better Sealed with Corks or Screw Caps?

Of all the ways to package and seal wines, two remain supreme.

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These days, wines can be sealed up and packaged in ways far unlike the traditional cap or cork-in-a-glass-bottle method. Between the Lines Winery in Niagara just released a Sparkling Vidal that is stored in a can. Some wineries in the United States are experimenting with other single-serve vessels. Last year, I got a glass of wine gifted to me that was in a plastic sippy cup and sealed with foil.

Unless you’re building a wine cellar, it doesn’t really matter how your bottle is closed. As much as 90 percent of wines are consumed within 24 hours of purchase, so it’s unlikely you’re going to have to worry about your bottle going bad.

But for wine aficionados, the cap or cork will always reign supreme. And, sadly, I don’t believe this will be the last column you will read about the great screw-cap debate.

Cork is obviously the traditional way to seal a bottle. There is still something satisfying about prying a cork out of a bottle. But cork has it’s drawbacks. As a wine drinker, you’ll eventually crack open a bottle that tastes like the smell of a musty basement—and you’ll know you’ve been corked. Depending on the quality of the cork used by the winery, five to 10 percent of a batch of wine can be affected by “cork taint.” It is also more expensive to use cork than a screw cap. That being said, it is a tried-and-true closure we know allows a wine to age properly over a long period of time.

On the other hand, there are plenty of misconceptions about screw caps. Many think only cheap wines are sealed with them. But when I ask producers in Niagara why they choose to use screw caps to seal their wines, the answer I get is the same across the board: it’s cheaper than cork, and it eliminates the chance that you will end up with a corked bottle. That high-quality producers such as Flat Rock Cellars and Norman Hardie use almost exclusively screw caps should give drinkers confidence that it isn’t only for cheap wine. And when you are at a cottage or hosting a party, there is something to be said about the simplicity of twisting open a bottle and not needing to fuss for a corkscrew.

In my own collection, 75 percent of the bottles are still sealed with cork. I’m sure in 10 years there will be many more screw caps in my collection. But, I can honestly say that how a wine is sealed has never dissuaded me from making a purchase. If a wine is good, I’m going to buy it.

Regardless of how they’re sealed, here are six wines to enjoy this weekend.

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2013 Rosewood Select Series Pinot Noir – Vintages 112177 – $21.95 – ****+

I always look forward to this wine hitting LCBO shelves because it’s so good. I love Pinot Noir from cooler vintages. The nose has nice floral violet aromas layered over sour cherry and damp earth all rising out of the glass. The flavours of this wine have cherry, raspberry, and cranberry leading the charge. The long finish on this wine offers a return of the subtle floral notes that you found on the nose and a nice earthiness. This will pair great with turkey or duck cooked any way.


2014 Vintage Ink Sauvignon Blanc – Vintages 391953 – $16.95 – ***1/2+

If you’re drinking a lot of Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc these days, it might be time to crawl out of that bottle and into this one. The nose is grassy and grapefruit; it just feels like a warm, dry summer day. There is just a hint of herbacious on this wine on the finish. While the savoury notes are there, they are very subtle and well integrated with a nice creamy texture on the mid-palate. The acidity is bright and crisp on the finish. Pair this with grilled or baked fish or freshly shucked oysters.


2014 Chasselay Quatre Saisons Beaujolais – Vintages 444372 – $18.95 – ****

I had a chance to visit its producer in 2014, so I was very excited to get to taste this wine—and it’s exactly what you would expect from a good Beaujolais. The nose offers flavours of cherry and raspberry with hints of freshly cracked pepper. The palate offers up raspberry, cherry, and very nice acids on the finish. This is definitely not something you’re going to want to age for a while, so when you pick this up bottle, toss it in the fridge for 30 minutes, and enjoy it immediately.

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2013 Hinterbrook Nomad Wanderlust – Vintages 451328 – $24.95 – ****

The nose offers up pencil shaving with smoky meaty notes layered over very fresh blackberry and strawberry. The tannin to this wine is quite firm on first approach, so you’ll want to decant this for a bit before drinking it. Once it settles down, you’ll find flavours of raspberry and blackberry with a nice savoury edge to the finish. This wine will benefit from a year in the cellar, but this isn’t something you should hold onto for a long time. This will make a perfect match to steak or beef ribs.


2014 Featherstone Joy Cuvée Rosé – Vintages 450700 – $29.95 – ****

This bottle is sealed with a crown cap. There are a few sparkling wines that are sealed this way from Ontario, but the wines from Featherstone are easily my favorite. The flavours seesaw between cranberry and cherry on some sips, with lemon and orange in others. Given that sparkling wine will pair with just about anything, this is a good wine to keep around the house while we seesaw between spring and winter weather.


2013 Konzelmann Late Harvest Gewürztraminer – Vintages 392357 – $14.75 – ****

There is almost a slight effervescence to this wine. This makes the wine feel electric in your mouth and amplifies great rose petal and lychee notes. There is a hint of sweetness on the finish, but the tropical flavours are what really linger. The texture on this wine coats your palate and adds to the long finish. This is a perfect wine to match with a spicy curry.

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