|October 26, 2005|
|Itís time to stop clinging to cork|
|Other countries have embraced screwcaps and Ontario wineries should follow suit|
I often get interesting inquiries about wine: Can I suggest wine to go with this or that dish, or inexpensive wines for a wedding? Can I suggest wineries to visit in this Italian or that Californian region? Can I explain the difference between the Zinfandel and Primitivo grape varieties?
Iím always happy to reply. When I donít know an answer I try to find it, and I often learn from these questions. Now and again, though, a real puzzler turns up. This one arrived a few weeks ago.
ďHello. My husband recently used our two vintage corkscrews to open a couple of bottles of wine. As is his customary practice, he did it with extreme exuberance and wholeheartedly put the corkscrews into the corks Ö all the way into the corks. Actually, here is a subject I have not found anyone on the Internet to have dealt with — how to remove a cork which is on a corkscrew?
I guess I have to slice it up? Or is there a simple trick? (Put the whole thing in a batch of something — vinegar?? soapy water?)Ē
Itís the sort of e-mail you might just delete, but I couldnít resist seeing if it was genuine. It turned out to be, although the writer (a judge in New York state) confessed in a second e-mail that she felt a little embarrassed not to have figured out that you just twisted the cork off.
Now, here was someone who would really have benefited from wine sealed with a screwcap. And thatís a subject that keeps on cropping up.
Even though Australian and New Zealand producers and British consumers have embraced screwcaps, the shift is taking longer than it should elsewhere. I was surprised to see that most new Ontario wineries mdash; the ones that have opened during the last year ‐ are using natural cork for their wines. Only one, Flat Rock Cellars, has gone 100-per-cent screwcap.
I was surprised because one of the reasons many wineries continue with cork is because changing to screwcap means replacing their bottling line. But if youíre building a new winery, you have the opportunity to install screwcap technology to start with.
For nearly all the producers still clinging to cork, the main reason is image or the belief that thereís resistance to screwcaps by consumers. Maybe I read the market incorrectly, but my sense is that most people who buy the higher-priced wines (thatís wines over $12 or $14 in Ontario) are aware that you canít judge a wine by its closure. And theyíre aware that about one in 12 bottles of wine is spoiled by the cork to one degree or another. Remember the bottle that just didnít taste as good as the one you had before?
There are some concerns about whether screwcaps are as suitable for wines intended to age compared to wines meant to be drunk young. But the wines on the LCBO General List are ready for drinking and, in principle, thereís no reason why all shouldnít be under screwcap. It would reduce the number of returned wines and improve the overall enjoyment.
A two-pack from Ontario, and two European Syrahs/Shirazes in todayís wine rack.
HENRY OF PELHAM SAUVIGNON BLANC 2004/GAMAY 2004 GIFT PACK Two wines from one of Niagaraís premier producers, and both varieties that produce fine wine in the region. Sauvignon Blanc has solid citrus (lemon, grapefruit) flavours and goes very well with oysters and goat cheese salad. The Gamay has lovely red and black cherry flavours with spicy notes and good balance. Itís a very good match for roast turkey. Each wine has 12.5 per cent alcohol; the two-bottle pack is $29.90 LCBO No 661033
YVON MAU SHIRAZ 2004 Rich, full fruit flavours with spice and pepper notes in this southern French Shiraz. The balance is good and this is well-made and very well-priced. Pair it with well-seasoned red meat dishes. Alcohol 13 per cent; $8.95 a bottle. LCBO No. 621979.
FUEDO ARANCIO SYRAH 2002 From Sicily, this well-made red gives rich dark berry aromas and flavours with complex notes of spice, pepper, and coffee beans. Pair it with rich red meat dishes with wild mushrooms. Alcohol 13.5 per cent; $11.95 a bottle. LCBO No. 621730.
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