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December 21, 2005

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Are screwtops and bag-in-a-box really innovations? I'm thinking that might just be a sign of corporatization. As wineries get bigger they start the whole cost cutting thing to maximize profits. Maybe screwtops are expensive initially, but what about in the long run? I don't know. I assumed it was cheaper to mass produce a screwtop package than a cork, but I've never researched it.

The only thing I can think of that would be equivalent in the craft brewing industry is the aluminum can. I wouldn't say that Blue Point isn't being innovative because they aren't putting Toasted Lager in a can. I don't think the beer drinking community would want beer in cans (unless it's an InBev product with one of those little widgets).

Do people who drink Long Island wine want screwtops and bags-in-a-box? I don't know. I'd probably steer clear of such innovations. Real innovation would be bottling in 33 cl bottles. I'd probably have a glass of wine every day if I didn't have to commit to a 75 cl bottle. I've invested in those recorking gadgets, but the wine is never the same the next night after being open for twenty-four hours.

Donavan,

I'd argue that both screwtops and wine bags/boxes are innovations and absolutely good things in the right circumstances.

First...for meant-to-be-consumed fresh whites and roses...a screwcap makes perfect sense. And, there's no risk of cork taint with a screwcap.

And...the bad rap bags and boxes get are really about the WINE that is traditionally put inside them. I'd LOVE to see someone put an honest-to-goodness good wine in a bag. Because they are airtight and protect the wine from ANY air contact, you can open a box of wine and it will remain fresh for weeks...instead of a day or two! I know that I'd love to buy a box of wine for 30 bucks that would last me a month...who wouldn't?

I don't have the exact numbers in front of me...but I don't think that screwcaps are that much cheaper than corks. But, the real savings probably comes in with the elimination of "corked" bottles. I've seen stats where one bottle in 10 is "corked"...and that's money out the window.

Capisco. I think the only screwtop wine I've ever had was Boone's Farm and the bag-in-a-box was Franzia, so I suppose this isn't considered ideal tasting conditions. I'll have to try the bag-in-a-box thing again if it really works that well. Any recommendations on what might be good in a box?

As a beer drinker I have a fondness for corks. Many of the 75 cl bottles of Belgian and French beers are stopped with a cork. If some one asked me, "Quick, tell me, have you ever tasted corked beer?" (I'm using corked here in the same sense you winedrinkers do, an infection of TCA (2,4,6-trichloroanisole), the compound that to a varying degree is found in all natural cork.) I would probably say "no." However, it's not that the TCA doesn't affect the flavor of the beer; it does. TCA imparts a mustiness or earthiness that many (but certainly not all) beer drinkers think of as charming or rustic. I gather that the wine community has a much lower tolerance of TCA and its participation in the flavor profile of wine.

I've had several decent-to-above average wines with screwtops...many from Australia. As for bagged wine...I've not had anything worth buying again yet. But I think you'll see something truly tasty packaged in that way soon. I hope!

Interesting that you beer drinker types find TCA taint "rustic" while I find it vile in vino. I've never recognized it in a beer...but I have some 750ml cork-stopped bottles from Southampton Publick House that I'll be tasting over the holidays. I'll keep an eye (okay, tongue) out.

I don't mean to be a pest (and this is probably a stupid question), but wouldn't storing your wine bottles upright rather than sideways minimize the risk of taint from TCA? I cellar my cork-stoppered beers upright for several reasons, only one of them pertaining to TCA.

Howwwwdy Lenn,
I think most of the world is hip to the new closures, and that is one innovation that I back 100%. The part of Tom's article that saddened me slightly was commentary about being able to cut alchohol, and being able to make 'wine' smell and taste as we like. I fear we are heading into a 'Planet of the Grapes' scenario whereby the acids, tanins, taste and aromas, those things that once came from the grapes and the ground, come from inside a box.
Happy Holidays out there in LI.
Bill

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