Wines & Vines Home
   
 
Welcome Guest
LOGIN |  CREATE ACCOUNT
 
 

Editor's Letter

 

Shaping Wines to Fit Their Closures

August 2010
 
by Jim Gordon
 
 
Until recently in winemaking history there was no debate about how to seal a bottle of high-quality wine. Cork had been the best choice for hundreds of years. Closures only became a hot topic when the suitability of cork was demonstrated to be an issue by the discovery of what causes “corked” bottles—2,4,6-trichloroanisole. Scientists learned how to measure this mold, and packaging companies subsequently rushed to develop alternative closures that were TCA-proof.

It turned out that eliminating TCA caused by closures was relatively easy. Wineries simply needed to switch away from stoppers made of cork, and voila! No more corked bottles. The TCA needed cellulose (a big component of natural cork) and exposure to chlorine (from cleaning solutions or tap water, usually) in which to grow.

Winemakers who had become royally ticked off at the high incidence of bad bottles began experimenting with screwcaps and synthetic stoppers. They eliminated all bad bottles due to cork taint but discovered other issues, including synthetics that allowed the wine to oxidize too quickly and screwcaps that made too tight a seal.

In the meantime, the incidence of cork taint dropped significantly among major natural cork suppliers, who have confronted the problem and taken expensive measures to correct it. In a sense, they have removed much of the original rationale for using non-natural cork closures. But during the years required to clean up the cork production business in Portugal and Spain, the makers of alternative closures also hustled to get the bugs out of their products, and they largely succeeded.

Multiple choice closures
Winemakers today find themselves with multiple choices in closures, and three different articles in this issue explore these options and their consequences. Winemakers can choose by price, by appeal to tradition, by TCA resistance and by a relatively new three-letter acronym.

The oxygen transmission rate (OTR) of a closure may become as important for a winemaker to understand as free SO2—and not just at bottling time. OTR expresses the amount of oxygen ingress in wine bottles from different closures. OTR is often expressed in micrograms (μg) of O2 per bottle per day.

As our contributor Jamie Goode explains in his report, “Post-Bottling Winemaking” on page 26, the choice of closure and its particular OTR may require winemakers to adjust their handling of wines from the crushpad to the bottling line, knowing that what they do along the way sets up the wine for its interaction with oxygen in the bottle afterward. This reflects a whole new variable for many winemakers.

The term, “post-bottling winemaking,” may be a misnomer, since it implies an active role by the winemaker at a time when the wine is long gone from the cellar. But it doesn’t take much imagination to grasp that a wine under a synthetic stopper with a high OTR is going to evolve much faster in the bottle than under a tight screwcap with a low OTR.

Effect on winemaking
One enologist actively grappling with this issue is Greg Kitchens, head winemaker for Don Sebastiani & Sons in Sonoma, Calif. Laurie Daniel interviews Kitchens on page 22 specifically about the wide variety of closures that his company uses—sometimes largely for marketing reasons—and how they affect his winemaking decisions pre-bottling.

A third article in this issue focuses directly on glass stoppers by interviewing winemakers in the Northwest and elsewhere who have chosen to use them. Peter Mitham reports on page 32 that a drop in price, a wider variety of bottle molds that accommodate glass stoppers and a very positive reception from customers recently has prompted numerous wineries to adopt this elegant-
looking closure.

Cork is not going away. The quality of natural cork is probably better than ever. Numerous surveys have shown that a large majority of wine consumers prefer cork for its evocation of tradition and believe that it’s the best seal to keep wine in good condition. But clearly, wineries have many options today when they bottle their wines, and natural cork is just one of them.

Smart winemakers should work with their marketers and use the latest research about OTR, combined with their own experiences to make the right decisions about winemaking vis à vis closure types. We think there will be no single, neat answer to the question of what is the best closure for a wine, but there will be plenty of information to help a winemaker craft the best wine for a particular closure.

 

 
SHARE »
Close
 
Currently no comments posted for this article.
 
 
SEE OTHER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN ï¿½ CURRENT COLUMN ARTICLES »


 
Wines & Vines Home
 
866.453.9701 | 415.453.9700 | Fax: 415.453.2517
65 Mitchell Blvd., Ste. A San Rafael, CA 94903
info@winesandvines.com
Wine Industry Metrics
 
Off-Premise Sales » Month   12 Months  
July 2014 $557 million
5%
$7,577 million
6%
July 2013 $533 million $7,128 million
     
Direct-to-Consumer Shipments » Month   12 Months  
July 2014 $61 million
9%
$1,674 million
10%
July 2013 $56 million $1,517 million
     
Winery Job Index » Month   12 Months  
July 2014 312
10%
222
19%
July 2013 283 187
     
 
MORE » Released on 08.15.2014
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Practical Winery & Vineyard Library
 
Search the PWV archive »
 
 

Direct To Consumer
Wine Shipping Report
2014
 
Download full report »
 
 

CALENDAR
  • August 29-31
     
    Sonoma Wine Country Weekend
     
  • August 30 - September 1
     
    Columbia Gorge Open House Weekend
     
  • September 5-6
     
    Windy City Wine Festival
     
  • September 11
     
    Women for WineSense "Women in Wine"
     
  • MORE »
 

READER COMMENTS
 
Article: Ledger David names first winemaker »
 
What a joy to have Kiley on the team! A lot of exciting things happening...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Useful Spanish for Wine Harvest »
 
you misspelled "zona" under Loading Area
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Early 2014 Grape Harvest Begins »
 
Thanks for mentioning Temecula and the South Coast appellation in your article. It is great...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Wineries May Lose Internet Domain Dispute »
 
All these arguments could be levied by any industry associated with any gTLD, new or...
Reader: Doug Barnett
 
Article: Wineries May Lose Internet Domain Dispute »
 
Do brands get hijacked now? Even though .wine does not yet exist, are there false...
Reader: Larry Chandler
 
 


Directory/Buyer's Guide — Your Wine Industry Marketplace
 
 
WINERY SEARCH
 
 
Advanced Search »
SUPPLIER SEARCH
   by Product
 by Company Name or Brand
 
Browse by Category »
2014 Directory/Buyer's Guide
The Wines & Vines Directory and Buyer's Guide
 
 
EXPANDED ONLINE SEARCH INCLUDED WITH PURCHASE
 
ORDER NOW »
 
LEARN MORE »
 
 
Wines & Vines Magazine
 
 
LEARN MORE »
 
SUBSCRIBE »
 
Digital Edition Now Available!
Wines & Vines Digital Edition Now Available
 
LEARN MORE »
 
ORDER NOW »
 
 
The Wines & Vines Online Marketing System
 
The Industry Standard winery marketing application
 
FREE LIVE DEMO »
 
VIEW VIDEO »
 
 
 
 
Latest Job Listings
 Visitor Center Represe...
 Napa, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Administrative Assista...
 Santa Rosa, CA
General Administration and
 Assistant General Mana...
 City Of Sonoma, CA
General Administration and
 Tasting Room Associate
 Livermore, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Harvest Help
 Sebastopol, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Customer Service Repre...
 San Rafael, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Business Development M...
 Santa Rosa, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Tasting Room Employee
 Healdsburg, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Central Region Manager
 Chicago, IL
Sales and Marketing
 Wine Educators
 Rutherford, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 
More Job Listings >>
Follow Us On:
 
 





Home  |  About Us  |  Editors  |  Subscribe  |  Print Edition  |  Digital Edition

Advertise  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy
 
 
Copyright © 2001-2014 by Wine Communications Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
No material may be reproduced without written permission of the Publisher.
Wines&Vines does not assume any responsibility for any unsolicited manuscripts or materials.