FAQ: do wines with screw caps age as well as wine with corks?

Posted by Tom Wall

While screw caps still have a bit of a bad reputation, in our opinion, it’s undeserved. But do bottles with this type of closure age as well as wine with corks?

Screw caps and everyday wine

Screw cap capsule ready to put on a bottle of wine. Source: Agne27 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Imagine you’ve bought a bottle of wine and maybe you’ve kept it for a few years. What do you care about? Probably the topmost question in your mind is ‘Does it still taste good?’

In all probability, a screw cap bottle will keep its freshness just as well as a cork bottle. Perhaps better.

Indeed, that’s why many Australian and New Zealand producers, even high-quality producers like Cloudy Bay, use screw-caps.

They reckon it preserves the freshness of the fruit and it avoids the risk of cork taint from a faulty cork. Although this is less common than it was, it still affects around one bottle in 100.

In the past, screw-caps were sometimes too airtight and this resulted in reductive aromas from newly opened bottles. But newer screw-cap designs allow some oxygen transfer, avoiding this problem.

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Tradition vs. innovation

There is a lot of tradition in wine and many winemakers aim to emulate the classics, especially if they want to charge a premium price. This includes choosing corks over screw-caps.

Certainly for Vincarta, we ended up with a selection that was all cork-sealed. Not out of prejudice, but because we wanted a high-quality selection and all our producers have all gone down the cork route.

Screw-caps and age-worthy classic wines

Whether there’s  a difference in quality in the long run is harder to say. My personal view is that for wines that you might keep 5–10 years, a screw-cap probably won’t be any worse and might be better than a cork. Beyond that, the jury is still out because of the small sample of properly old screw-cap bottles.

No doubt, the great French houses have libraries of test wine in their cellars with screw caps to see how they age over the years. But nobody has opened a 50-year-old Burgundy or Bordeaux with a screw cap to see how it’s aged because, well, there aren’t any. Yet.

How to open a bottle with a screw cap

You can open them the normal way but check out this video for a more entertaining approach.

Where do your allegiances lie: cork or screw cap? Let us know in the comments below.

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