cork and corkscrewSpring is sprung, the grass is ris – I wonder where the corkscrew is? Because I’ve spent all winter not using this archaic piece of machinery and opened bottles with just a flick of the wrist. Screwcaps make getting into a bottle of wine so easy that you wonder why some producers still stopper their products with small pieces of oak tree bark whose primary goal seems to be getting in the way of enjoying wine.

cork in bottleCorks work best when kept moist through contact with the wine - a horizontally stored bottle achieves this. But less than optimum bottle storage angles and temperatures, along with cheap chipboard-like corks made from waste cork crumbs stuck together, all allow the cork's integrity to fail before it's entirely removed from the bottle neck.

So the too often sight of torn and crumbling corks greets us along with bits of cork floating in the glass and then getting between the teeth.

wine and corkPlus there’s the issue of ‘corked’ wines. This is a nasty bacterial infection brought into the wine through improperly sterilised corks.

The wine industry admits that between one and twelve bottles in a hundred suffer from this complaint: if your bottle is infected it will taste and smell horrible, rather like damp cardboard.

So how can you avoid crumbly corks and ‘corked’ wines? Buy wines bottled with a screwcap that’s how.

screwcapped bottleBut these metal caps haven’t always had it all their own way. Until very recently they were known to suffer from poor adhesion to some bottle shapes and so it wasn’t uncommon to find spinning, rather than opening, caps as insufficient grip with the bottle’s screw thread stopped the collar seal from breaking.

All that seems to have been sorted along with its image: 85% of regular wine drinkers (November 2011 data) say they find screwcaps perfectly acceptable while 42% claim they actively like buying wine with a screwcap.

So let’s raise a glass for tin topped wine bottles.

PG Screwcapped Wine Tips

£5.99 and under

There are a few fruity, slurpable wines among the forgettable masses.

Tesco SimplyTesco Simply Chilean Sauvignon Blanc

£4.49 Tesco

Zingy flavours of gooseberry, lemon and passion fruit with a creamy finish.

Tesco Simply Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon

£4.49 Tesco

Cherry, redcurrant and marzipan aromas along with simple blackcurrant and dark choc flavours.

Spar South African Red

£4.79 Spar

Quite some depth of flavour in this under a fiver wine: blackberry, cocoa and black cherry liqueur.

Vina Maipo Chilean Tronos Shiraz Reserva

£5.99 Morrisons

Juicy with a spicy edge: blackberries, milk choc and cinnamon flavours.

Costs a bit more, but tastes great

Sometimes a bottle of wine tastes so fab it's still a bargain whatever it costs.

Spar Australian Shiraz Reserve

£6.19 Spar

Smooth cherry choc with some burnt toast flavours at the end.

Santa CarolinaSanta Carolina Chilean Reserva Sauvignon Blanc

£8.49 Majestic

Tart gooseberry flavours – a simple and fresh Sauvignon.

Related articles:

Down tools; Inspired Wine: wineboxes reviewed; Freshcase winebox; Low weight picnic baskets need light-weight wines; Black bottles, plastic pouches and low alcohol at Tesco

This article has also appeared as Paula's Wines of the Week on