Tuesday 20 February 2018

Katherine Donnelly: A fresh twist on screwcaps

kATHERINE Donnelly

You know the moment: guests are due, but you're still whipping and stirring in the kitchen and the white wines have to be opened. On this occasion, there were four (there was some food matching going on), and the last thing needed was to be fumbling with the corkscrew when the guests arrive.

Relief, the first bottle is screwcap. And the second. And the third. And the fourth. The doorbell rings, and the domestic goddess is unruffled.

Australia's Clare Valley came out with the screwcap first, but the real revolution was launched in New Zealand a decade ago. Now, 90pc of their wines are sealed this way.

It went viral, and they reckon that of the seven billion bottles of wine sealed worldwide every year, three billion have screwcaps, up from 100 million in a decade.

The motivation was scientific. Screwcaps keep the air out and ensure that wines are fresher for longer, and they eliminate the risk of taint, associated with corks.

But what of red wines that are thought to need the tiny amounts of air gradually allowed in by a cork to mature properly?

There is plenty of evidence that they too age gracefully under the screwcap. And so convenient. Happy 10th birthday, New Zealand Screwcap Initiative.

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