July 6th, 2009

Screw Cap Conundrum

by Jacqueline Whitmore

If you’re a wine lover like me, you’ve probably noticed that a lot of wines have screw caps instead of corks, especially those from Australia and New Zealand. But what happens if you’re having dinner in a nice restaurant and the server unscrews the cap and sets it down on the table? What is the proper protocol for the presentation of a screw-top wine?

In the June 30, 2009 issue of Wine Spectator, editor-at-large Harvey Steiman had these suggestions. Steiman recommends that, even though a screw cap reduces a wine’s risk of suffering TCA contamination, it is important that the sommelier or waiter present the bottle itself as he or she would a cork-sealed wine before opening it, so that the customer can verify that it is indeed the label and vintage ordered, and that they give the customer a taste before filling the glasses, to make sure the bottle has not spoiled as a result of excess heat or light or as the result of a (very rare) misapplied cap or dent in the screw top, which could have allowed air in.

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One Response to “Screw Cap Conundrum”

  1. etiquetteguy on July 6th, 2009 2:18 pm

    This is a great question and Harvey is dead right – as usual. Having owned a four-diamond restaurant for 8 years, wine service is something I have paid close attention to. Another curious corollary to this question is the whole idea of what is one supposed to smell when checking out a 'real' cork? After all, cork does smell like cork. I think the answer lies in any contamination which would leave a moldy stink. Always interested to hear opinions on this one. Thanks, Jacqueline.

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