By Cathy Huyghe, Contributor, Forbes.com | Posted: November 14, 2014
It’s almost time!
For cork-popping season, that is – that festive time of the year when the iconic sound of cork being released from a wine bottle signals the beginning of things.
The beginning of a party, maybe. Or the beginning of a holiday celebration with friends or colleagues or family. Or, best of all, the beginning of a conversation.
Yet, just as there are long narratives behind what it took to bring a bottle of wine to your table, there are similarly long and at times complicated considerations about whether to seal that bottle with cork, or synthetic closure, or screwcap.
Those considerations have to do partly with perceptions – synthetic closures may seem forward-thinking in terms of materials, screwcaps may seem modern in terms of ease and accessibility, and cork may seem romantic and “natural.”
Although consumer opinions about closures vary, the trend is increasingly in favor of natural cork. A recent Nielsen scan of top 100 premium brands showed an increase of their use of cork stoppers by 30%, compared to a 9% increase for alternative closures. A similar Wines & Spirits survey of top 50 restaurant wine brands showed that wines finished with cork accounted for 90% of the brands selected at restaurants, up 21% from a decade ago. During the same period, brands finished with screw caps showed a 39% decline, and brands using synthetic closures were down by 70%.
Consumer adoption, clearly, is a major consideration for wineries. But the fuller list of closure considerations is long.
St Francis Winery President and CEO Christopher Silva, for example, points to three specific factors, for starters, that influenced the winery’s shifting from natural cork twenty years ago, to synthetic cork, and back to natural cork in 2012.