More and more wines are sold in bottles with screw caps – and since wine is sold with screw caps, there is a lot of controversy about this topic.

If you are pragmatic, you would know, that a screw cap is far more advantageous. It is easy to use and opens without an additional tool. It closes the bottle air tight. It is has less impact in the environment – and the wine will less likely have a cork taint (the wine could still has contact with TCA, while it is produced – but most of the time, the cork is the offender).

Cork is more romantic. More natural. Some people argue, that wine in cork ages better (it has at least a long history of being “ok” in aged wines).

I have had a quite interesting conversation with Thibaut of Mouton Rothschild – as they are also changing some of their lower wines to screw caps. And this discussion just fueled my imagination.

Why are screw caps so controversial?

There are three important points. One is traditionalism – corks were used through hundred of years – maybe even millennia. People are quite resistant to change – even though there are objective reasons for a change. Corks are also relatively cheap – maybe this is the reason for the whole TCA dilemma… some innovations like glass corks (I think these are really cool) were just dismissed, because they were substantially more expensive.
Hence screw caps are the underdog. But I do think the real issue is, that they “feel cheap”.

We are in an era, where there are amazing glass bottles and closures – especially the liquor industry is constantly innovating this area. However the wine makers are using usually very cheap screw caps. The result is, that a certain sensual thing in the opening process get lost.
For a cheap bottle of wine, this is ok. However if you have a more expensive product, you like to be “soothed” by a sensual experience.

All is not lost!

There are different options, to improve the “look and feel” of screw caps. I would first of all change the thread: more “travel” and a noticeable point, which can be felt, when he bottle is closed or opened. Second: a coating on the thread. There is nothing worse than a “grainy” feeling, when you open a bottle – a coating on the bottle thread or the cap thread would ensure that the opening is smooth and enjoyable. Three: heavier cap – this for sure would increase the cost (probably only marginal), but having a less flimsy, maybe longer cap, would also just improve the experience.
There could be also the option, of using a small disc of cork instead of the usual rubber seal. These small discs would be far cheaper to produce and sterilize than corks, but would also ensure connoisseurs, that only natural materials are touching the wine (on the other hand, you would built in a chance for fail – this would though be an interesting compromise).

I am sure, that there are many further ways, to improve the screw cap.

What do you think dear Reader? Do you have any further ideas? Or do you hate screw caps and only buy wines with corks? Please feel free to comment your thoughts.

In these instances I also do see, that I might look for an opportunity in the consulting industry…