Corks and Screw Caps for Winemaking: What are the Differences?

As you may already know, there are two main ways to seal wine bottles. One way is the traditional cork method that has a long and illustrious history in winemaking. The other is the newer method of screw caps. While both perform that basic function adequately for basic storage and aging, there are distinct differences between them. We elaborate on the characteristics of both in the following facts in order for you to decide which one you prefer for your specific wine batch.

Corks are Made from Natural Substance

The material in corks is from the bark of the cork oak or Quercus suber tree. The bark of this tree is thick and rugged enabling manufacturers to process it into the cork shapes effectively.

Corks Encourage Timely Aging of Wine When They Fit Right

Since corks breathe, they help the wine age in a shorter length of time than with screw caps as we discuss a bit more later in this information. This is one reason why wine aficionados often prefer corks over screw caps and have for years.

Bad Corks Can Taint Wine

Even though corks help wine age in a timely manner, they are not without their issues. If they do not seal the bottle in the appropriate manner, they can allow too much oxygen into the wine, which changes its quality. Also, a bad batch of corks can cause cork taint by contaminating the wine with the chemical Trichloroanisole or TCA. TCA imparts undesirable characteristics to your wine.

Screw Caps Are Made From Metal and Other Manufactured Elements

Unlike corks, screw caps are made from manufactured elements such as metal. On top of this, they screw onto the bottle instead of plugging into it.

Screw Caps Cause the Wine to Take Longer to Age

With screw caps, it is easy to receive and maintain a secure seal at all times to prevent excess oxygen from entering the wine. However, this benefit comes with a drawback, namely the wine takes longer to age than when corks are used to seal the bottles.

Screw Caps Never Impart TCA Into the Wine

There is no risk of the wine being tainted by TCA with screw caps. Also, there is higher quality control with screw caps and less of a chance of getting a bad batch.

Screw Caps Keep Wine Drinkable Longer Than Corks

Over the long haul, screw caps will keep the wine drinkable longer than corks according to research. Of course, if you are dealing with wine that is consumed within a short time of it completing its aging, this may not be a concern of yours.

For further information about the differences between corks and screw caps for winemaking, contact Grapeworks Consumables. We carry a wide assortment of winemaking machinery, equipment and supplies.