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The evolution of screw caps

The debate on what makes the best way to close a bottle of wine seems to be an ongoing one with the major divide between the camps of cork versus screw cap, not to mention a few other options along the way. Let’s take a closer look at the story behind screw caps.

It might be surprising to know that the first screw cap was patented in 1889 and was initially used for whiskey. It is difficult to know when screw caps were first used for wine, but the first closures were of poor quality which stunted the uptake until significant innovations in the late 1950s. This ushered in a new closure built from multiple layers with an aluminium alloy exterior and an expandible liner disk that created the seal.

This original seal kept the bottle airtight which meant there was no transfer of oxygen that is believed to help the wine age. This was celebrated by modernists that were keen to experience a wine aged isolated from oxidation (exposure to oxygen) while the traditionalists criticised this fact. Over time the screw cap has evolved, most significantly in that the liner disk can now allow the minuscule transfer of oxygen over time to mimic the traditional aging of a bottle of wine.

Some of the most significant benefits of a screw cap is that it eliminates the potential of TCA tainting a wine from contaminated corks. TCA, short for 2,4,6-trichloroanisole, is a natural forming compound in corks and can cause a wine to lose its flavour and be left with a musty aroma, in severe cases leaving the wine undrinkable. Whilst harmless to people, except for evoking displeasure, TCA is a major contributor to bottle variation, and it is only known if a bottle is infected once opened. Additionally, with screw caps, there is no concern about ageing wines for 15 or more years, where corks elasticity starts to breakdown causing the bottle to leak. On a similar note, screw capped wines can be stored standing upright since there is no need to stop the cork from drying out and leaking, offering greater storage flexibility.

The Ken Forrester Petit, Reserve and Icon ranges are all topped with screw caps that are selected to meet the needs of the wine. While the Sparkle Horse and T Noble Late Harvest are under traditional cork. For something outside of this traditional closure debate, have a look at the Silver Rose 2021 which has been topped with a glass stopper called a Vinolok.

With the advances in technology and quality assurance, there is a quality screw cap for every need. Across the Ken Forester ranges the ideal closure has been selected for the benefit of the wine and your enjoyment.