Travel

Have you been to a wine tasting lately?

... cork or screw top?

from JimTierney

I always thought I knew the difference between the good wine and the not so good by getting a bottle with a cork. Well, that may not the case any more. Wine industry studies have found that the cork is not all it’s “cracked” up to be and that the screw cap may do the job just as well, if not better. However, I’m sure tradition will somewhat prevail and the cork will always be with us, not to mention the fact that the winemakers of the upscale wines don’t want to be associated with a cheap wine screw top. Will you pay $250 for a Dom Perignon screw top??

I’ve never professed to be a wine connoisseur and I never will because I never will be, but I’ve been to wine dinners several times because my wife enjoys them. Our latest was the other night which included a seminar on wine “closures” before the wine dinner. Like at the dinner, we had five wine glasses in front of us, numbered 1 through 5, but rather than tasting different wines, we were tasting the difference in the SAME wine between a corked wine and a screw top. There was only one wine but two vintage years, one with a cork and one with a Teflon rim screw top, and the other with a cork and two screw tops, one Teflon rimmed and the other tin rimmed. Believe it or not, there WAS a difference in the taste. I can envision Budweiser adding corks to their bottles to keep up with the trend.

At wine festivals, you hear from winemakers from all over the world who promote their special wines and give you a lesson on how the wine is made. You learn the process of removing stems, leaves, etc, the oxidation process, fermentation, pressing cycles, the process of aging, barrels and tanks. You also learn about the pH in the juice, increasing and decreasing the potassium, and injecting SO gas? NOW, we learn about closures, the difference between corks and screw tops, about natural and synthetic corks vs crown, cellulose, Teflon, and Stelvin caps. And we can’t forget about the sniffing, the soaking, and the tainted bales. When ordering a Chardonnay or Merlot in the future, will we be also asking for either a corked wine or capped wine?

I’ve often wondered about how knowledgeable the wine “experts” really are? After our seminar, we went in to dinner to taste more wine, a different wine with each course with the winemaker at the podium explaining each wine. I know there is a basic rule about white wine with fish and red wine with meat but how do you match a Poached Chervil Topped Baby Turbot with a 2005 Chardonnay, or a Cabbage Wrapped Duck and Foie Gras with a 2003 Pinot Noir? The dinner guests were dutifully sipping the different wines with each course, swirling the wine in the glass and in their mouth, smacking their lips, savoring the taste, etc, with an expression on their face that “confirms” that this particular wine certainly goes with this course. Personally, I “go along with the crowd” and do likewise but don’t have a clue. This particular wine festival has about 50 wine dinners over a four month period each year with, perhaps, thousands of attendees. How many are as clueless as I am? I’d really like to know.

Another thing I’m curious about. Why are the California and French wines supposedly the best in the world? Are the vineyards in France and Sonoma and Napa Valley that much different than those here in Massachusetts or, for that matter, the grapevines in Chelsea and Melrose gardens (or the grapes Lucy stomped her feet on in Italy?). Maybe they are, but you can’t prove it by me. Hey bartender, I’ll have another Bud Draft.


March 2, 2007


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