Close range: the latest trends in stoppers

The closures industry is a fast-moving one, with manufacturers continually investing in improving their products. Sally Easton MW looks at the current market, and highlights new ideas, such as plant-based stoppers and anti-counterfeiting measures.

There has been a huge amount of research and development in the closures industry in the two decades since TCA toppled the de facto cork monopoly. Investment, innovation and strides towards greater sustainability in this sector show no sign of abating, even as that touchstone technical taint edges its way closer towards defeat.

Recent innovation for screwcaps has been about finessing liners of different oxygen transmission rates (OTR). “There is interest in the market for liners giving a more subtle control over the maturation or oxygenation of wine,” says Davide Strocco, managing director of screwcap manufacturer Astro Group.

“However, the ‘standard’ Saranex liner will remain widely prevalent because it offers by far the best value-for-money ratio; it works very well on most wines and gives a stable, predictable result. It has more than 20 years’ proven track record. Alternative liners are certainly of interest, but mainly for the very high-end market.”

Removing polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC), which can release dioxins on incineration, from the liner improves sustainability values.

Elena Zaharieva, director of investor relations at Bulgarian company Herti, says: “Liners play an important role for the quality of the wine… we offer liners suitable for pasteurisation and controlling the sulphites in the wine. Our research led to creating the Vinstar Smart wine closure with a PVDC-free compound liner.” Amcor Capsules, which makes Stelvin, has offered its own range of PVDC-free, OTR-specific liners since 2014. Trade and communication manager Lucie Neubauerova says the company is “working on a liner that is able to withhold even more pressure, including pasteurisation”.

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