Closure Minded

Published letter to the editor from Ask Dr. Vinny | Wine Spectator, Issue: February 28, 2015

In a recent “Ask Dr. Vinny” column dealing with wine closures (online, Oct. 17), Dr. Vinifera writes, “Corks can crumble, fail, and cause bottle variation or TCA contamination,” all of which is true. However, because [Vinny] is admittedly “pro-twist off,” he creates the false impression that screwcaps are not subject to bottle variation and are free of TCA contamination, which is not the case. TCA can come from any surface, including the wine barrel, which comes into contact with the wine during the production process. Because of the hundreds of millions of dollars that the Portuguese cork companies have invested in new technologies and vastly improved quality control procedures, cork-induced TCA has been reduced to under 1 percent.

In the same column, Dr. Vinifera states that he often asks “producers who bottle under twist-offs if they see any resistance when it comes to selling their wine.” Not surprisingly, [Vinny] reports that “most of them shrug off the question.” We could put him in touch with producers who have returned to natural cork from twist-offs and synthetic stoppers, and he would hear a different story.

Lastly, Dr. Vinifera characterizes consumers who prefer cork over screwcaps as the “wine-snob set who tell me that the sound of a popping cork or ritual of pulling out a corkscrew is as important to them as what’s inside the bottle.” He is certainly entitled to his opinion. However, if that is the case, then the vast majority of wine consumers are snobs, because market research shows that wine consumers overwhelmingly perceive wines with a cork stopper to be of significantly higher quality than those with a screwcap.

In the interests of full disclosure, I want to point out that our client is the Portuguese Cork Association (APCOR). Given the high esteem in which Wine Spectator is held by producers and consumers, and the size of its audience, we hope that future reporting on the merits and faults of various wine closures will be fair, balanced and accurate.

Jeff Lloyd
Sitrick and Co.
Los Angeles

Read the letter and the response here.

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