Put a Cork In It? We Don't Think So...

One of the first things you might notice about all of our Fox in the Hen House wines (except the sparkling shiraz) is that they have screwcaps instead of corks. In fact, this is something you may notice about most Australian wines, as well as a growing number of US wines. You might associate screwcaps with lesser quality wines, but we assure you, nothing could be further from the truth. Our classy-looking screwcaps help ensure that our wines stay fresh and pure, unaffected by some of the notorious wine faults that often accompany corked wines. How so? The Fox explains…

 Our cool screwcaps...

Our cool screwcaps...

You might not know this, but wine is alive. When placed in the bottle it continues to evolve and change. While a little bit of slow evolution is fine for most wines, and this ‘aging’ even improves and mellows the flavor of some, too much development, too quickly, will make the wine age too fast and ultimately spoil. This is what happens when oxygen gets in through a compromised cork. Since wine is anaerobic it doesn’t require oxygen to evolve, but if oxygen is added, it develops faster.  Since we don’t know how much oxygen could be permeating through a cork, we have no real idea how each individual bottle is developing. With modern screwcap technology, no air gets in, and no oxidization can occur.

Another common problem caused by corks is 2,4,6-trichloroanisole, or TCA for short. Ever opened a bottle of wine and had it smell like mildew or wet socks? This is caused by a contaminated cork coming into contact with the wine. How could a cork be contaminated? Well, cork is the bark of a tree (Quercus suber, the cork oak) and like other trees, it gets visited by insects and other organisms. Chemicals are used to control the insects, and later chlorine is used to purify the corks. The combination of the chemicals and the chlorine can sometimes result in a nasty infection of the cork, called TCA, which makes the cork stink. When the tainted cork comes in contact with the wine, the result: corked wine. Screwcaps avoid this problem completely – no bugs on our screw-caps, no need for insecticides or chlorine, no TCAs.

 Quercus suber, source of corks

Quercus suber, source of corks

By now you may be wondering, why would any winemaker still use corks at all? The Fox can only speculate -- about lingering elitist perceptions, investments in built infrastructure, etc. -- but the bottom line for our crafty consumers is, twist off that screwcap with confidence, wherever and whenever, no corkscrew required, and rest assured, you’ll be enjoying exactly what the winemaker intended.

Bruce clugston