Could Port Wine use other closure than cork? No, not for now
In recent years, or maybe even in the last decades, there has been a considerable amount of research about wine closures. Some defend cork, others screwcap, and some advise for the t-cap (very hard to find a producer however!! – do you know any?). In countries with a long wine production track record, cork is the most used closure, while, especially in the southern hemisphere, the screwcap is used for high turnover wines. However, most of the expensive and iconic wines, regardless the country, also use cork.
These debates are also taking place in the EWBC network and I think I can present you a Port Wine producer’s point of view. So what are Port Wine companies using as closure?
All the port wine producers use cork in their wines. Nevertheless, there is at least one company – Castelinhos Vinhos – using plastic cork for some cheaper wines sold in the UK and in Germany. Besides this exception, the industry uses t-caps for the cheaper wines like standard Ruby, Tawny and White and cork for the remaining high quality ports. For a premium ruby port, we will use better cork than for a premium tawny, because the former’s aging process occurs mainly in the bottle, where it can stay for some decades; while the latter is bottled ready for drinking, after having aged in wood.
In my opinion, Port Wine will resist to the new wave of screw cap and plastic plug used in table wines. Port Wine is a traditional drink also in this sense, and customers would hardly accept a different closure than cork. Cork allows a slow oxidation of the wine, which is complementary to its aging process. Moreover, cork is the closure with longest expiration date. We also know that there have been improvements in the cork’s quality, as a result of the fact that the leading cork producers, and their association, have been doing important research to reduce cork’s bad influence in wine. Curiously, the last table wine I tasted, yesterday at dinner with a friend who also attended the I EWBC, was infected with TCA!!
But regardless of one bad experience, Quevedo Estates will continue to use cork for its Port Wines and also for its table wines. It just makes sense.