Friday, March 14, 2008

The joys of twist-off wine

Posted By on Fri, Mar 14, 2008 at 6:31 PM

click to enlarge twist_top.jpg

I picked up a bottle of wine to celebrate the Blog-o-thon; and, as I always do, I purchased a bottle with a twist-off top. And that got me thinking about how whenever I break out a bottle of wine with a twist top in Charlotte, I get the most condescending looks. I don't think folks in the Queen City got the memo that twist-off wine is the best thing to happen to vino since ... well ... cork. Don't believe me? Check out what the folks at Quixote Winery said about twist tops:

In 2003, Robert Parker, publisher of the Wine Advocate, reviewed German Rieslings. Riesling is a terrific grape, but it doesn't hide any imperfection. If something’s wrong with a Riesling, there’s no doubt about it. Parker reported that over 15 percent of the wines were corked.

Corked is wine jargon for the problem caused by using a cork that contains mold spores that spoil the wine in the bottle.

It is generally believed that 3 to 5 percent of the wine produced in the world is corked - almost one bottle per case. And if Parker’s survey is right, that figure is low, because many grapes can hide the taint.

Winemakers are making and selling an absolutely unacceptable number of corked wines. And every bottle represents a loss, either to the maker or to the customer.

How can we continue to sell customers this product that ruins wine? Why are we paying so much attention to the growing of grapes and the making of wine and then putting in corks that wreck all our work? Every winemaker in the world knows this, and yet we continue to do it. It’s crazy!

Especially because there is a solution: the twist-top closure. We believe that the twist-top closure is the best closure available for wine today. Time and time again twist-top closures have been tested, and have performed better than corks.

Beginning with the 2001 vintage, Quixote and Panza wines have been packaged in twist-top bottles. This is better for you and for us. The bottles are a cinch to open. You never push a cork into the bottle and you are free of concerns about cork taint.

As for aging, the research looks good. And, getting rid of the cork allows wine to be stored vertically. Right now, bottles are kept horizontal so that the wine inside will keep the cork wet, preventing it from drying out and crumbling. Red wines naturally deposit a little sediment as they age. If the wine is kept on its side, the sediment falls onto the side of the bottle. When the wine is opened, people end up drinking all the grit. Sure, you’re supposed to stand the bottle up a day or two ahead of time. But that’s the point - what kind of drink punishes you if you don’t prepare it a day in advance?

Supposedly customers like the romance of corks. At Quixote, we're betting that they’d rather have the extra good bottle in the case and the ease of opening that bottle.

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