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Is All Screw-Top Wine Bad?

Let’s settle this once and for all.
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Published Dec. 20, 2023.

When shopping for wine, you have to make a few choices. Do you want red, white, or rosé? Something sweet or dry? There also seems to be a plethora of opinions on what makes a “good” wine. 

Without being able to sample every wine we come across before buying it, it’s easy to rely on outdated ideas about things like packaging to draw conclusions about a wine’s quality.

Enter the screw cap. Many still believe that if a wine bottle has a screw cap or twist-off top then it’s “cheap” or “low brow.” But with the array of wines on the market, many of which have screw caps, is this assumption justified?

We had a conversation with TJ Douglas, the founder and CEO of the Drink Progressively Group and The Urban Grape wine store, with locations in Boston and Washington, D.C. Here’s what he had to say about the misconceptions regarding screw-top wine.

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Screw-Top Wine Does Not Mean Low Quality

Douglas explains that screw caps, also called Stelvin closures, are just another method of packaging. We can’t make assumptions on the quality or taste of a wine based on something so superficial.  

In fact, Douglas shared that screw-top wine bottles have an interesting history. 

“Screw caps became more popular in New Zealand. Wine makers wanted to keep their wines at peak freshness, which is harder to do when shipping over long distances with natural cork because it’s porous. New Zealand is known for their Sauvignon Blanc which frequently have screw caps,” explained Douglas.

The Benefits of Screw Caps

As Douglas mentioned, screw caps can keep wine fresher over longer periods of time. This is true for shipping purposes, but it also means they’re a great option for people who drink a bottle of wine over a few days. Instead of trying to reinsert a cork or having to purchase a wine saver, you can just replace the cap and store it in your fridge or a cool place. 

Another benefit? They’re easier to open. No need to struggle with a corkscrewa screw cap comes off easily. (You could also always spring for an electric wine opener).

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What About Other Types of Closures or Packaging?

Beverage packaging is continuously evolving. Douglas points to the use of tetra paks, which are small rectangular boxes made up of cardboard, plastic, and aluminum. Some manufacturers sell their wine in these highly portable containers. They’re convenient if you’re going to the beach or to a park for a picnic. That’s right—boxed wine has come a long way!

How to Choose a Wine for You

Overall, Douglas recommends not drawing conclusions from packaging or closures alone but instead focusing on finding a wine that fits your particular tastes. Are you a sweet or savory person? Do you enjoy lighter fruity flavors or tend to gravitate toward deep chocolaty or coffee undertones?

Don’t get hung up on price, either. A more expensive wine doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll like it better. 

Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for guidance when in a wine store. You might just find something that you like.

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