Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Wine Ed 411: Screw Topped Wines

If you're like most consumers, you may have noticed that more wines are being bottled with screw tops.  This isn't your eyes playing tricks on you.  Almost the entire continent of Australia is bottling wines with screw tops and many New Zealand and U.S. producers are following suit.

(Photo from Google Images)

The truth is, bottling with a screw top isn't all that bad.  As most wines on the market are meant to be consumed within 3 years, a screw top is a natural choice.  I often warn consumers of buying bottles of wine that are screw topped and have been sitting in the bottle for more than 3 years.  This is a guarantee that, under the anaerobic (no oxygen) conditions that a screw top provides, the wine itself will naturally lose some of its fruitiness and most likely develop hydrogen sulfide (i.e. rotten egg) aromas.  Sometimes finding a bottling date on a wine can be difficult, so try to buy those wines where the vintage date (the year that is usually on the front of the label) falls within that 3 year mark.  For example, it is no 2011... so don't buy screw top wines that show a vintage date before 2008.  If you're really picky, only pick up the 2009s, 2010s, and 2011s. 

Only pick up wines that are no older than 3 years
(Photo from Google Images)

Another thing to keep in mind is that most of the Australian wines you'll find on the market are bottled within a year and put on the shelf quickly.  With Australia and New Zealand, I usually give myself a 2 year cut-off for those wines that are screw topped.  I do this also because wines from these New World locations are extremely fruit forward.... and I want the fruit!

All of this being said, don't be afraid of the screw top.  I think when Australia moved to make screw tops their standard wine bottle closure, they were releasing a statistic that stated, "80% of Americans don't own a cork screw."  (Is that true?!  I have 5...)  The fact that some people believe only bad wines come in screw tops is just not true.  It's the intent of the wine to be sold young - i.e. not meant to be aged in your wine cellars.  I've been to plenty of restaurants that serve screw topped wines, and although it still surprises me, I've never turned one down or thought that it was a bad wine while drinking it.  

Let me know if you've found any out there that you find enjoyable!

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