Wine bottle closures

The use of cork (crafted from the bark of a specific type of oak tree, Quercus suber) placed inside the neck of the wine bottle is a 350-year-old technology. This alone should be a reason to question whether there may be a better way of keeping the wine safe. Next, as the Portuguese makers of cork are happy to point out, cork is a natural product. There are two issues here: first, the composition of cork is one of nature’s marvels – it is incredibly complex, with 40 million hexagonal gas-filled cells in every cubic centimetre. This inevitably means that no two corks are exactly the same: the difference may be so small that only a super computer could tell it, or it may be obvious to the naked eye.

Next, the bottle is most definitely not a natural product, so why should its union with cork have the magical quality assumed by those who prefer or defend the choice of cork? But even more to the point, while the exterior of the bottle neck can be guaranteed to a thousandth of a millimetre, the same is not true of the interior of a bottle neck. The cumulative effect of cork and bottle neck variability means that no two bottles of the same wine bottled on the same day and stored in the same conditions will be precisely the same; the differences may not be obvious when the wine is young, but they will become ever more obvious as the wine ages over the years.

The opposite is the case with a screwcap. It is manufactured to extremely fine specifications, as is the external neck of the bottle. It is possible for an inexperienced user of the equipment which places the screwcap on the bottle to set up the process incorrectly, but this rarely happens. 

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