Wine containers have been closed with the bark of the oak tree, Quercus suber (or cork oak tree) for a long, long time. Wine containers sealed with cork were found in the Ephesus, Turkey dating from as early as the 1st century, BC.
Currently, cork is extracted from cork oak trees from early May to late August, when the cork can be separated from the tree without causing permanent tree damage. When a cork tree reaches 25–30 years of age and is about 24 inches in circumference, cork can be safely removed. Subsequent cork extractions can occur at intervals of about 10 years. The highest quality cork is used to make stoppers for wine and champagne bottles.
Wine lovers have become accustomed to the wonderful "pop" sound of cork being removed from a bottle of wine. To many wine lovers, this sound and smelling the cork is an essential part of the wine experience.
But why does one smell the cork?
The cork is smelled to determine if the wine is good or not. If you smell an unmistakable funky reek, your bottle of wine is “corked” and is unfit for consumption.
3% to 7% of all wine bottles closed with cork show some degree of spoilage caused by the cork closure. The smell comes from a nasty chemical which is produced during the cork sterilization process. The chemical is 2,4,6-Trichloranisole (TCA). TCA smells like moldy newspaper, wet dog, damp old cloth, or wet, damp basement.
Burbank Ranch wine bottles are NOT sealed with cork.
We use "screw caps." The ones we use are StelvinTM-type closures. Entire countries have switched from corks to screw caps: Switzerland, New Zeeland, and Australia, to name just a few.
The reason Burbank Ranch uses screw caps is simple. They are superior to cork.
With screw caps, cork taint is eliminated. In addition, oxygen transfer from the space surrounding the wine bottle to the wine within the bottle can be exactly controlled with the choice of "liner" or "top disk" that is inside the screw cap. The liner is the only portion of the screw cap that touches the wine, and it can be constructed of materials that allow exactly defined quantities of oxygen to enter the wine, calibrated to the requirements of the wine maker and the wine being made.
All-in-all, screw caps are superior wine closures because of:
- the absence of cork taint
- consistent taste from one bottle of wine to another
- preservation of wine aromas, flavors, and freshness
- easy bottle opening and re-closing
- their ability to allow controlled micro-oxygenation through engineered liners
For additional information see www.wineturtle.com/the-final-end-of-the-cork-vs-screw-cap-debate
See what James Jaube of the Wine Spectator magazine has to say about Twist-Offs: