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November 27, 2007



The suspicion was growing, but now we have the proof. Poor old Torn has exited at the Funny Farm ramp.

Where, oh where, is the pleasure of nearly having a hernia trying to remove a recalcitrant cork from a bottle? Where is the pleasure in the bloody thing snapping halfway through the process? Where is the pleasure in trying to get the thing back in when, inexplicably, you can't finish the bottle in one sitting (answer: you have to turn the cork upside down)?

I haven't seen one learned article on the question of cork vs screwcap that did not recognise the fact that there is absolutely no difference in taste (if there were, the wine would be corked). The distinction, if there is one, is that the cork somehow seems more "traditional". But so was the quill.

What next, Torn? "Why did they do away with 78s?"

Madame Chiang

Two things on the screw caps... firstly I couldn't agree with you more...and from the point of view of restauranters and guests...the click click of the cap opening as opposed to the flourish of a cork being pulled out is pretty naff....

secondly...a slightly amusing story... The Island Boy is not really up on his wine knowledge...so I have been trying to impart some of mine...picture the scene... I am sitting at home waiting for him to arrive...a glass of Sauvignon Blanc in front of me... he arrives home, gets the bottle from the fridge, twists the screw cap off..pours the wine into his glass, tops up my wine and screws the cap back on. So the lesson starts.."ok take a deep breath of the bouquet, what do you pick up on the nose"....long pause from the Island Boy....."it smells corked"!!!!!!!!!!

For some people I think there is no hope!!


Cogs — Funnily enough, my next post is going to going be “whatever happened to hats?” — I am obviously going through a nostalgic mid-life crisis.

I am not sure whether I can explain this properly, but for me “drinking wine” is not a series of individual experiences but one, divided into episodes. The cork was a part of that and without the cork the experience seems somehow incomplete.

Let me ask you a question: do you remember “wine boxes”? Let’s say it could be demonstrated that wine from a box was just as good from a wine as from a bottle. Nevertheless, wouldn’t you feel your enjoyment of the wine was in some way diminished if, instead of clutching a nice wine bottle as bucolic French peasants have done for centuries, you had to trot off to the refrigerator to fill up from a nasty box marked “Tesco”?

Madame Chiang — corked screwcap wine, that’s a good one. The next time I get served a screwcap bottle in a restaurant I’ll try sending it back because it is “corked”. Let’s see what they say.



To take up your point on wine boxes, they didn't survive because the stuff in them was no bloody good. But many of the Aussie and Kiwi wines that these days appear in screwcap bottles are superb, and dollar for dollar are far superior to most of the stuff being produced in corky old Europe.

I read recently that the competition from New World wines, particularly from Down Under, is such that the French are not only moving towards screwcaps but are even thinking of telling you what grapes they are using.

Not very bucolic, it's true, but an important step in demystifying wine and making it more accessible. I'm all in favour of that.


Cogs — I see you are cunningly avoiding the question — a sure sign I have you on the run. My question was not whether the wine in boxes was crappy. I asked whether, if the taste were exactly the same, you would enjoy drinking wine from a Tesco box as much as from a bottle.


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