27th February, 2017 by Patrick Schmitt - This article is over multiple pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Whether it be cork, plastic or aluminium, winemakers are spoilt for choice when it comes to stoppers. Patrick Schmitt MW considers the performance of each closure type.
Picture credit: Sparflex
It may seem extraordinary, but one of the hardest decisions for any winemaker doesn’t concern practices in the vineyard or cellar. Although the implications of picking dates, fermentation temperatures, extraction regimes, barrel selections and so on are all crucial for wine style, it is the choice of stopper that gives producers one of the greatest headaches.
That’s because so many factors are involved in the selection, while the options continue to expand, and the science behind closure innovations is always evolving.
Furthermore, stoppers do affect the way a wine can taste, as well as a producer’s costs and carbon footprint.
With this is mind, we have decided to look at the key differences between closure types from three materials – cork, plastic and aluminium – according to their performance, environmental impact, and price. The idea is not to say which is best or worst, but to look at the facts, after many years reporting on these closures. This, it is hoped, will help you decide which type of stopper is the most suitable for your wine.
Before considering the options, it should be stated that if this analysis seems to feature more on the cork industry, that is not because of the bias of the author, but simply because the cork producers, who were heavily criticised by the wine industry in the nineties and early noughties for a poor-quality product, have, in the past eight to 10 years, been extremely active in technical innovations to defend their position. This means that there’s much to say about cork. It has also ensured that cork closures are now slowly regaining market share of the total stopper business, above all from plastics.