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In Good Taste

Everything You Need to Know about Wine Closures and Stoppers

Everything You Need to Know about Wine Closures and Stoppers

Cork it, Screw it, Save it

It’s a weeknight and you’ve found yourself perusing the store aisles on the hunt for your next bottle of wine (because, let’s face it, sometimes Tuesdays are tough). While on your noble quest, you may have noticed the variety of closures that adorn the top of each unique bottle. Some are corked, while others have a simple screw cap. After finally deciding on an intriguing-looking Pinot Noir and heading home to savor that Tuesday treat, you discover another small dilemma. Since finishing an entire bottle of wine in one sitting Tuesday night might not work for your Wednesday morning meetings, you need to find a way to save the rest of your well-deserved vino. What’s the best way to do this?

In this guide, we will give some insight into the different types of wine closures, why they’re used, and some of the best ways to save your opened wine for another day.

Wine Cork vs. Screw Cap

Among winemakers, the type of closure chosen to preserve a bottle of wine primarily comes down to the type of wine and the preference of the winemaker themselves. However, there are other factors to consider as well. If you’ve ever wondered why your bottle of wine has been corked rather than screwed (or vice-versa), we’re about to get into it!

Types of Wine Corks

Even within the cork category, there are a few different types of cork closures that winemakers can choose from, because what’s life without a little variety?

Cork Wine Closures - Natural and Synthetic Cork

Natural Cork

If you’ve ever purchased a bottle of wine, there’s a good chance it had a natural cork closure. Cork is by far the most common wine closure, with 70% of all wines and 89% of fine wines getting sealed with this familiar top. Natural cork is a renewable resource, coming from the bark of a cork oak tree. It gives most consumers the perception of a high-quality wine (although, as we will discuss, this isn’t always the case.) Cork seals the wine by expanding within the neck of the bottle, keeping the wine inside and most oxygen out. It can be beneficial to the aging process of wine by allowing minuscule amounts of oxygen to interact with the wine, adding complexity, and allowing it to mature – kind of like how you may have felt when deciding that wine was your new ~thing~.

The biggest downside to using natural cork is something known as the dreaded cork taint, which is something that we’ll get into later.   

Synthetic Cork

Synthetic cork is another option that is available to winemakers. This imitation cork is typically made from plastic (polyethylene to be exact) or from plant byproducts, specifically bio-polyethylene. There is consistency in the production of synthetic cork, there is also consistency in the oxygen transfer to the wine that the cork is sealing, ensuring a predictable aging process. Synthetic cork is also quite durable, more affordable than natural cork, and it is not affected by the ghastly cork taint (we’re getting there, promise!)

Synthetic cork is made from polyethylene and is non-renewable, so this closure option falls short on the environmentally friendly side of things. Some recycling centers will take them, but it depends on the facility. (You can also consider upcycling your old wine bottles!) Some wine professionals also claim that the synthetic nature of these corks adds a subtle chemical smell to the aroma of the wine. Another downside to synthetic cork is that it can be so darn difficult to open. If you find yourself struggling to pull that cork out and have the urge to mutter unsavory phrases that your mother wouldn’t approve of – it’s not you; it’s the cork. 

Other Corks

This final, miscellaneous category of corks includes colmated, multi-piece, micro-agglomerated, and agglomerated cork. The latter two are more popular in this category, and are essentially like a sort of cork particle board that’s held together by a binder or glue. These types of cork tend to break down easily, which makes them best suited for wines that will be consumed within six months of bottling.

Screw Cap

In the 1970s, our Aussie friends introduced and popularized a new way to preserve wines, and it could be said that they really … screwed things up *ba dum, tss*.

We’re kidding of course. The screw cap was patented and used commercially in the '70s, and winemakers in Australia are the ones responsible for popularizing this new method. In fact, screw tops are the closure of choice for most wine producers in Australia and New Zealand, who are known for their delicious varieties of Sauvignon Blanc. They are used across all varieties and price points, contradicting the popular notion that fine wines must be sealed with cork. 

Aluminum Screwcap Wine Closures, Pros and Cons

One large upside to the screw cap is that it provides consistency to the oxygen levels that are exposed to the wine. Screw caps can also provide longevity to the wine, although this is a controversial topic among seasoned winemakers. These closures are also affordable, easy to open, and convenient. They also completely rid winemakers of the horrid cork taint, which we will talk about soon. 

Be sure to recycle your screw caps! Made from aluminum, infinitely-recyclable resource which requires 95% less energy to recycle than to create “primary aluminum” from raw ore. In fact, about 75% of all aluminum produced in history is still in use - that’s nearly a billion tons of endless recyclability!

Unfortunately, wines are more prone to reduction when sealed with screw caps, meaning that they do not have enough contact with oxygen to age, and they may even lose some of their complexity. This questionable aging ability is another negative factor to consider, although this claim is contested between cork and screw cap advocates.

Screw caps are easy to put back on and pop in the fridge, and bottles with this cap can save footprint space as they can be stored standing straight up as opposed to on their side like wines with natural cork. 

What is Cork Taint?

We’ve kept you wondering and waiting for long enough. It’s time to discuss cork taint. 

Cork taint, with its unfortunate and unpleasant name, is something that can happen to natural cork closures. Basically, cork taint is the chemical compound known as TCA (2,4,6-trichloroanisole). TCA affects wood-derived materials, such as natural cork, and it occurs when chlorine comes into contact with certain fungi during cork processing.

What is Cork Taint?

The good news is, although it sounds pretty icky, cork taint is harmless and does not happen often. The downside is that it can negatively affect wine aromas, giving it the essence of a wet dog or a damp basement. It goes without saying, but those are typically aromas that winemakers want to avoid.

Can You Age Wine With Its Original Stopper?

Now that you’re effectively an expert in the different types of wine closures with their positives and shortfalls, you may be asking yourself – can you preserve your unfinished bottle of wine with its original stopper?

In short, it depends on how you store the unfinished wine afterward. The key is to minimize the wine’s contact with oxygen so that it loses as little of its aroma and complexity as possible. Re-corking your wine properly or putting the screw cap back on is a good way to keep unwanted oxygen out. However, if you’ve lost or broken the original closure for your bottle of wine, a stopper is an effective and sometimes better option for keeping your unfinished wine fresher, longer.

Types of Wine Stoppers

There are two main types of wine stoppers out there: decorative rubber stoppers and vacuum pump stoppers.

Rubber Stoppers

Rubber stoppers can be fun, decorative, and act as a cute little hat for your bottle of unfinished wine (they can also be a great gift for any wine lover, you can thank us later). These stoppers act as a replacement for cork if the original has broken or is too difficult to put back in. They’re a good option if you plan to finish that bottle of wine in the next 1-2 days. 

Wine Stoppers from Rubber can extend the life of an opened bottle by 1-2 days

Vacuum Pump Stoppers

Vacuum pump stoppers are pricier than the typical rubber stopper, and they allow the opened bottle to stay better, longer. Vacuum pumps are a popular option in restaurants and bars, these stoppers pump air out of the bottle, minimizing the amount of oxygen that could interfere with the wine giving you a couple extra days to sip on that bottle. 

Vacuum Pump Stoppers for storing open wine

How to Store Wine and Keep it From Going Bad

To preserve that precious last bit of wine, here are a few of our best tips to keep your new favorite bottle fresh for another day. 

Re-Cork or Use a Stopper

Like we established above, re-corking your wine or using a wine stopper is an effective option for keeping your wine tasting great for an extra couple of days.

Save an Opened Bottle of Wine by closing with the original cork/screwcap, or a rubber stopper

Refrigerate It

Ye olde refrigerator is an excellent choice for storing your opened bottle of wine, even if it’s a red! The cooler temperatures in your fridge can help slow the process of the wine breaking down and keep it good for up to five days.

Refrigerating opened wine extends it's shelf life

Use a Wine Preservation System

This option is better for wine enthusiasts, as wine preservation systems can tend to be pretty pricey. One preservation system/stopper that we’ve already talked about is a vacuum pump. Another is an inert wine gas preservation system, such as a Coravin, which works by puncturing a hole through the cork of a wine bottle to extract the wine and replacing the wine with argon gas. This way, the wine is never exposed to much oxygen, and you can essentially “open” your bottle of wine without truly “opening” it.

Coravin Wine Preservation Systems

Use Smaller Bottles

With a smaller bottle of wine, you’ll be more likely to finish the entire thing, and the smaller bottle allows for less oxygen to interact with the wine. It just so happens that at In Good Taste, we specialize in perfectly sized pours, so you’ll always have fresh wine to enjoy.

Smaller Format Mini Bottles allow or more exploration of wines, with less waste!

Finish the Bottle

There’s no wine left to store if you just finish the bottle. We pass no judgment here for your weekday wine consumption. As we’ve already established, Tuesdays can be hard.

Finishing the bottle makes "storing" wine even easier!

Congratulations! You’re now an expert in wine closures, stoppers, and storage! The next time you’re out with your friends, you can impress them with your litany of knowledge as you enjoy that perfectly poured and stored — glass of wine. Cheers!

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Summer Picks

Our Favorites

Warm, sunny days require wines that are crisp and oh-so refreshing. With two delicious rosés and a delightful Sauvignon Blanc, our Summer Picks are the perfect addition to your sunshine-filled adventures.

$61.97

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California Wine Mixer Top 3

Our Favorites

Californian wine is a state of mind. The Cabernet Sauvignon, Rosé, and Red Wine from our California Wine Mixer bundle can transport your state of mind (and palate) all the way to The Golden State.

$77.97

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International Whites

Our Favorites

Experience a world-class wine tour for your tastebuds from the comfort of home. This bundle features incredible selections from France and Italy that will have you ready to grab your passport and hop a plane.

$67.97

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Vine Voyage Top 3

Our Favorites

The Vine Voyage bundle will remind you why France and Italy are two of the most well-known, wine-producing countries in the world. Take your senses to the European countryside with Montepulciano, Rosé of Sangiovese, and Nerello Cappuccio.

$58.97

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Light Reds

Our Favorites

Like the infectious laugh of a best friend, these wines will warm your soul and lighten your mood. Our Light Reds bundle with a Grenache, Coteaux Borguignons AOC, and Pinot Noir are sure to be your new wine besties!

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Big Reds

Our Favorites

Big. Bold. Unapologetic. The rich, unmistakable flavors of the Cabernet Sauvignon, Barbera, and Bordeaux Rouge in our Big Reds collection are perfect for the unwavering palate that demands something more.

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Rosé of Sangiovese

Andiamo

Sangiovese can be found in both the Chianti and Montalcino regions of Tuscany (it all sounds so romantic, right?) and is known for producing classic medium-bodied wines. A rosé wine is actually made from red grapes (like the Sangiovese) that haven’t fully ripened by harvesting time. Try as these grapes might, they ended up a little too tart and a little too light in color for a typical red; but that’s where the Rosé of Sangiovese comes to play. Crisp, fruit-forward, and easy-to-drink—it’s everything you want in your bottle of rosé and more.

$19.99

Sauvignon Blanc

La Pluma

We couldn’t have rosé and Pinot Grigio at the La Pluma party without inviting its ring leader, Sauvignon Blanc. If Pinot Grigio is the dry, acidic friend of the group and rosé is the always sweet and highly affable one, Sauvignon Blanc exists between the two to create true Zen. An interesting and addictive blend of grapefruits and herbs set this white wine apart and make it incredibly difficult to resist, especially when the temperature is high and your desire for a refreshment is higher. La Pluma Sauvignon Blanc is the perfect poolside or beach companion; just be sure to bring a few bottles because your friends will definitely want to partake, and we don’t blame them!

$23.99

Barbera

Wild Child

The perfect pizza wine. Barbera is a simple wine that’s not only easy for winemakers to make, but easier to drink. It’s low in alcohol and an Italian red wine we implore you try chilled because it’s truly *chef’s kiss*. Classic Barberas are fruity, medium bodied and offer the perfect hint of tartness. It’s also the best of both worlds in terms of light and heavy red wines. Let’s say you’re having a friend over who always prefers a cab, but you’re more of a Pinot Noir kinda gal. Order a pizza and open the Barbera for a perfect middle ground kind of evening. After all, the combo of good red wine and pizza is the great equalizer.

$24.99

Montepulciano

Andiamo

Big, bold, and full of flavor—exactly what you’d expect an Italian wine to be! This classic Italian grape produces some of Italy’s most straightforward red wines and is often used as a blending grape. Not here, though. We let Montepulciano do the heavy lifting as a heavy red wine and shine on its own. If you enjoy the smell of leather bound books, nibbling on dried fruit, and complementary notes of bitter, dark chocolate and sweet plums, you will love this Italian wine. No need to pair it with any certain dish—Montepulciano tastes great with all the Italian classics.

$20.99

Cabernet Sauvignon

Unprecedented

If Pinot Noir is the light and juicy queen of reds, Cabernet Sauvignon is her bolder, heavier, meatier sister. Often referred to as just “cab,” it’s the wine of France’s Bordeaux and California’s Napa Valley. There’s nothing subtle about Cabernet Sauvignon—high in alcohol, full-bodied and robust, you can usually find this red served with a ribeye, New York Strip, or filet mignon (re: carnivores love cab). Classic cabs usually offer tasting notes of chocolate, coffee, and darker fruits like prunes and plums. The Unprecedented Cabernet Sauvignon is as classic as they come, and we highly recommend letting the bottle sit and mellow until your next red meat and potatoes dinner!

$34.99

Rosé

La Pluma

While it’s the unofficial official wine of summer and warm weather situations, La Pluma’s Rosé is one you can drink year-round, no matter the occasion. All rosé wine is derived from red grapes that didn’t quite make the cut, but the result exceeds expectations in terms of highly-sippable, easy-drinking wine. This La Pluma Rosé is as light as its feathery namesake and is best served extremely chilled for an extremely chill afternoon of nothing but vibes. And maybe a few snacks.

$17.99

Pinot Grigio

La Pluma

If you’re looking for more zest in your life, a bottle of Pinot Grigio can provide that. We included a classic Pinot Grigio in the La Pluma collection because we’re all about light and easy here, which is exactly what this grape from Italy is. It has that dry sense of humor that seems so effortless with a punchy acidity to keep you on your toes, all while offering notes of lemon, limes, green apples, and honeysuckle. Long story short; when it’s been a heavy day and your soul is seeking light things only, you’ll be happy to have this bottle on hand.

$19.99

Pinot Noir

Unprecedented

We couldn’t create the In Good Taste Unprecedented collection without the Golden Retriever of wines: Pinot Noir. Pinot is likable, it’s easy, and its natural state of being is simply charming. It’s an incredibly easy red wine to love, which is why so many people do. The grape itself is from the Burgundy region of France, but has made its way to California, Oregon, Australia, Italy, Argentina, and Germany since. Our Pinot Noir has no surprise twists—it’s a classic light red with just the right amount of sweetness to keep you coming back for another glass (or two).

$25.99

Coteaux Bourguignons

Passport

The Burgundy region of France is home to their best Pinot Noirs, but we took the grapes into our own hands to create something extra special with our Coteaux Bourguignons. It’s a blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay, which results in a French red that’s light in body but full in flavor. The ripest blueberries and freshest herbs can be easily detected in this French burgundy blend. May we suggest pairing it with some creamy brie and freshly baked bread? It’s a oui-ning combo.

$25.99

Nerello Cappuccio

Wild Child

This is not your average Italian red. Nerello Cappuccio is a dark-skinned grape variety from Sicily, the Mount Etna region to be exact (yes, the volcano). Although its color is vibrant, you might be surprised to know that it’s a much softer red than it looks to be. Our Nerello Cappuccio is cherry-forward, with other tasting notes of vanilla, light coffee (like your favorite breakfast blend), and minerals. The delicate tannins in this Sicilian wine will surprise and delight you and tastes exceptionally good paired with margherita pizza or arancini balls (drool).

$17.99

Chardonnay

Unprecedented

Ah, Chardonnay. The buttery, oaky, rich white wine that is polarizing in its very nature. This is the type of wine you either love or hate; it’s rare to find someone who lies somewhere in the middle. If you’re in the “love” category, our classic Unprecedented California Chardonnay will surely become a new favorite. Its buttery vanilla nature pairs extremely well with like minded buttery, creamy foods such as brie cheese, lobster, crab cakes, crème brûlée, squash, corn, and mushrooms.

$33.00

Verdicchio

Andiamo

A little sweet. A little tart. A little salty? You truly get it all with this white Italian wine. If you’re into that biting acidity, Verdicchio will probably be high on your list of most-loved wines from our Andiamo collection. Citrus fruits like mandarin, lemon, and grapefruit are at the forefront, but what really sets this Italian wine apart is its distinct notes of almond. While our Verdicchio can start out tasting a bit bitter, the more you sip, the sweeter it becomes. In fact, we suggest approaching it as an aperitif (Italian for an alcoholic drink sipped before a meal to stimulate the appetite) to experience its full effect.

$23.99

Red Wine

Unprecedented

We’d love to introduce you to our old friend: Unprecedented Red Wine. She’s a 2019 blend that has been with us through it all and grown to be one of our more popular wines. She’s a mix of all the best Italian grapes: Barbera, Sangiovese, and Tempranillo with a splash of Mourvèdre and a few others. They’re all hanging out, having one big, juicy, delicious party! Tasting notes include a touch of spice, a hint of leather, and some of the best juicy fruits, including blackberries. She truly gets along with just about everybody!

$24.99

Côtes du Rhône White

Passport

This was one of our first French wines to join the Passport collection and one sip will explain why. Some background on the Rhône Valley in France: While this region is known for its dark, juicy reds, a very small amount of special white wines are made in the Rhône Valley. Our Côtes du Rhône is packed with French-perfected, floral flavor and Old-World charm. Its natural tang paired with the weighty Marsanne grape and aromatic Roussanne grape results in a crisp, savory sip that’ll transport you to a sunbathing chair by the Rhône itself.

$23.99

Bordeaux Rouge

Passport

When you picture medieval folk sitting around a feast with goblets of wine, chances are they were drinking Bordeaux. This wine has been made in France since forever and is arguably the most classic French wine out there. Bordeaux is known for its full body, smoky notes, and rich, oaky taste. If you love cabs, chances are you will adore Bordeaux. For our Passport wines, we had to include this classic French red for you to sip and enjoy to your heart’s content. Best savored over a rich meal like lamb ragu, ratatouille, or BBQ.

$21.99

Ventoux Rosé

Passport

You probably know that the Tour de France is held on Ventoux Mountain in France, but did you know that the same area is known for its high-altitude rosé? This is the kind of quintessential French rosé that you don’t need to spin your wheels over—it’s simply delicious, crisp, and perfect for warm weather. Despite its delicate, pale pink color, each sip is lush with flavor, from tropical passionfruit and zesty citrus to refreshing melon. This has the potential to be your new summer go-to, so we’d suggest stocking up.

$21.99

Tempranillo

Wild Child

Say “¡Hola!” to Spain’s main grape: Tempranillo. This red grape put Rioja wine on the map and is un vino tinto classico. It’s best compared to a classic cab, but with a bit more unique magic that’s hard to put your finger on, which is why it’s a part of our Wild Child line. This medium- to full-bodied wine with its relatively higher tannins usually offers complex notes of cherry, fig, cedar, tobacco, and dill. This is the type of red wine you want to buy and pour for a Latin-infused meal; think carne asada, tacos al carbon, or just perfectly cooked steak fajita meat.

$27.99

Grenache

La Pluma

We knew the only red in the La Pluma collection had to be exceptionally good and exceptionally light. That’s why including a Grenache was a no-brainer. If smooth, fruit-forward, light-bodied reds appeal to your tastebuds, this could be your new favorite. The grape itself is tricky; depending on the climate of where its grown, Grenache wines could be light, dense, or somewhere in the middle. La Pluma’s version has all the airiness and flavor notes we wanted in our Grenache, which is how we know you’ll love it. Get the most of this red by pairing it with roasted meats, spice-heavy vegetables, and Mexican-inspired dishes with lots of cumin.

$27.99

Barbera

Andiamo

We really try not to play favorites at In Good Taste, but there is just something about an Italian Barbera that hits different in the best way. Barberas are the perfect wine for pizza night; they’re low in alcohol, medium bodied but taste super light, and their berry and plum flavors pair incredibly well with savory tomato sauce and cheese! Another fun thing about Barberas? They actually taste great when chilled, which is not something we’re in the habit of suggesting for our red wines. Our Italian Barbera is the perfect marriage of a cab and a pinot and is the ideal choice for a ladies who lunch kind of afternoon.

$21.99

Vermentino

Wild Child

We couldn’t not have a weird white in the mix, right?! The Vermentino grape grows exclusively along the coast of Italy on the island of Sardinia (yeah, like the fish). Because of its origin, this grape offers a salty, crisp flavor that’s incredibly easy to drink and enjoy. We say it’s “weird” only because it’s not widely known by name, but chances are you’ve probably had it before if you’ve ever ordered white wine in an Italian restaurant. If you love peaches and lemons and get a kick out of anything that reminds you of the sea, our Vermentino is the perfect Italian white to experience on a sunny day outside.

$23.99

Viognier

Unprecedented

For the Chardonnay lovers who are looking to dig a bit deeper in the world of bold whites, a Viognier (pronounced vee-own-yay) could be your next big adventure. Viogniers tend to have more range; while they can be creamy with hints of vanilla like their Chardonnay counterpart, they also offer lighter, fruitier flavors like tangerine, mango, and honeysuckle. It’s still a more full-bodied white wine, but unlike Chardonnay, it’s softer on acidity and more perfumed. Spend an afternoon with a glass of Viognier amongst the flowers and it’ll all make sense.

$24.99

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