If you classify yourself as a wine enthusiast, chances are you have some opinions on how your bottle is stored. Specifically, with the cap. Corked or screw cap? Opinions vary from being scientific to aesthetic, but often reaching more towards the romantic. Corks are typically attributed to the later.
Corks have the ability to add a touch of personality to the wine that wouldn’t have it otherwise: the designs, the wood used, the quality, real or synthetic and even exudes a sense of danger. Who among us, we who imbibe upon the oldest known intoxicant the world has known, has not plundered deep into a cork, twist and pulled, yanked and strained, only to find the cork crumbling away as it inches upwards? And how many exclamations of “oh, shit!” have been yipped in that respect? But those who stand by the cork, for good or for ill, feel that all the above are apart of the experience, a personal connection. It’s fighting the good fight, braving one last microcosmic storm before jollification at the end of an arduous day.
That’s a romantic perspective, however. Others like to simply collect corks as if conquered trophies. You’ll find some whom like to smell the butt of the cork before commencing the tasting – something looked down on by the snubs of the community for reasons I could never quite fathom.
There’s been some flutter of information out there that says the screw cap method is not only more reliable, but actually better for wines needing a longer fermentation in order to gain elegance, insuring the wine with a long and effectuating period of ameliorate. And then you will undoubtedly hear from (whom I’ll go ahead an call) Corkies a recrimination: that the screw cap does not allow any air into the wine, thus rendering the fermentation process to be nullified.
It looks like we’re going to get a more solidified answer after September, 2013. The University of California, Davis, has been undergoing a study that will better solidify an answer to the conundrum, to what method of capping a wine is most beneficial. Over six hundred bottles of Sauvingnon Blanc are being capped in three different ways: by natural cork, synthetic cork, or screw cap. When the study concludes the bottles will be opened to both experts and casual drinkers which in turn will lend their interpretation on how much oxidation has occurred within each given capped varietal.
I suspect the aesthetic appeal will be under debate for quite sometime – until, that is, the UC Davis psychological department becomes involved.
Jillian Guernsey, an undergraduate working with the study, states that their goal is to “determine if individual bottles might be getting a lot more or less oxygen – and therefore aging at different rates.” The study hopes to conclude, conclusively, which cork should be used by the producers to ensure the proper expression which they wish the exude. If, for instance, they find a synthetic cork is effective, but much more porous than your typical wood cork, thus letting in more oxygen, a producer may be more inclined to use or shy away from a synthetic cork based on how they wish the wine to be expressed. Some wines meant to be drunken early may benefit from a slight upswing in air intake.
The radiology department is also being used to great effect in the study, using scans of the corks to probe the inner structure and composition of each. Every three months the wines will be analyzed for color change, using a spectrophotometer that will enable the researchers to inspect the wines compositional changes without opening a single bottle. The study also states that color change in white wines are phenomenal examples of how much oxidation has taken place.
We’ll have to wait and see what the word is. My only question is how red wines differentiate from whites under the same circumstances. Would the difference in oxidation in relation to the differences in structure and manufacturing be trivial? Or is it possible that red’s oxidize differently, thus reacting to the differences in corks in a whole other spectrum than a white wine?
This brings us to the Secateurs. It’s a screw cap wine, which I’m naïvely inclined to shy away from. Truth is, We’ve had many taut and sound wines that have been capped with a cap. But the ratio of insipid to luscious is respectively, in the ball park, 3:1. It’s only natural certain prejudices gestate. And so, we drink and study. Notes as follows:
Source: UC Davis
Badenhorst Family Wines Secateurs Red Blend, 2010 – $ 14
– A dark, inky concoction threatening to make another storied stain on the couch. Deep and purple to the very edge of the rim.
– Saddle wood, dust, pepper and lively dark berries are all present. There’s a strong sense of tannins already.
– A heavy wine in the back-end. There’s not much of anything to discover in the front or middle of your mouth as you slosh it around, other than an acute, but agreeable, tinge of cherry and raisin sweetness. There’s a long finish with the jab of tannin, so you’re bound to take down the wine with ease. It wont fight you, but your not exactly able to take it out within a small meals time.
Overall: Worthy. For $14, you should give this a shot. The heaviness is actually fluttery, lively, and makes a strong case for its more acidic side. The 2010 Sectaeurs is as if a cousin to California’s most round and murky zinfandels, but that’s of little consequence when you don’t have to wrestle with every swallow.
Quote of the Evening:
“It’s not everyday a dinosaur falls on you.”
– Dr. Leonard McCoy, as played by Deforest Kelley.