Screwcaps are turning heads

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Related tags: Wines, Wine, Bottle

I love screwcaps. Don't get me wrong, I know they're not perfect, but most agree they're the best closure around right now for young wines. Imagine...

I love screwcaps. Don't get me wrong, I know they're not perfect, but most agree they're the best closure around right now for young wines. Imagine if we turned the whole closure thing on its head ­ that all wines were closed by screwcaps and that someone had just discovered cork. How would they sell it? It makes a nice noise coming out of the bottle and almost 95% of the wines won't taste of mouldy socks. It doesn't work, does it? I know the jury is still out on screwcaps for older wines ­ but trials are rife the world over, so we'll just have to wait. And no doubt the research gathered to date will be aired at the world's first International Screwcap Symposium (yes, there is such a thing), which takes place in Marlborough, New Zealand, on 10 to 12 November. Part of that event will include a tasting to evaluate aged and library wines under screwcap, with particular emphasis on the ageing of red wines. I can't wait ­ no, really. So if you're still one of those establishments that is, shall we say, a stick-in-the-mud about the screwcap issue, then it really is time to wise up ­ Chris Troup has. The proprietor of Coastal Inns & Taverns reckons his life just got a whole lot easier with the introduction of screwcapped wines on his list. Two years ago he introduced Villa Maria's Sauvignon Blanc under screwcap. New Zealand's second largest winery has wholly embraced the screwcap. In fact, it was the first in the world to offer quite such a volume under the alternative closure. After all, reasons Villa Maria's owner George Fistonich, no other food or beverage manufacturer would put up with this level of product failure (official figures say 2%, unofficial figures declare that nearer 10% of the wines we drink are corked). "We now have the opportunity to ensure that 100% of our wines reach consumers in pristine condition." What did Troup's punters think? "There was no reaction at all," he says, incredulous. "I think this was largely because the wine has a good name and it's well recognised. "For us it meant that we had no corked bottles to deal with, and we can sell by the glass more easily. Ramming a cork back into the bottle just doesn't look so good, does it?" Troup's pubs ­ the Anchor in Cowes and the Wheatsheaf, in Yarmouth, on the Isle of Wight, and the Mayflower in Lymington, Hampshire, all now offer a line-up of wines bottled under screwcap ­ there's even a Chablis and a red Bordeaux. "They took me a while to find, but I'm committed now," he says. They're handy, too, for his events catering business. Next month he'll be feeding 2,000 on the last night of a major sailing event, the Little Britain Challenge. "And they'll all want wine in the space of half an hour, which is normally a logistical nightmare, so screwcaps are a major plus," he says. Troup admits that the "yachties", who make up the majority of his pub customers, are probably more receptive than the average drinker, but he still believes that those who haven't made the switch ­ or at least started offering a selection ­ will be pleasantly surprised. "There's less customer resistance than you think," he says.

Related topics: Wine

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