Scientists to settle dispute over taste of wine in bottles with corks versus screw caps

July 28, 2017 by Bob Yirka, report

Credit: CC0 Public Domain
(—A team of researchers with Oxford University (with assistance from Bompas & Parr) in collaboration with the Portuguese Cork Association is gearing up to settle the dispute over whether wine tastes better when stored in bottles with corks or screw caps—and they are not simply taking the word of tasters. They are going to study wine drinkers' brains while they sip. The event, Neuroenological Tasting—The Grand Cork Experiment, is scheduled for today and tomorrow, and those in London's Soho area who are interested in participating are encouraged to sign up.

Taste, like most everything else related to the senses, is purely subjective—one person may love the taste of chocolate while another finds it dull and pasty. How, then, could scientists possibly conduct an experiment designed to decide which of two methods of storing is "better?"

The answer lies with science. Rather than just asking people which they prefer, the researchers plan to put sensors on the heads of taste testers while they sip. The sensors will monitor brain pleasure responses and translate them into numbers that can be used for comparison purposes. The researchers will also be looking at other factors that might be related to how we register the taste of wine. Does hearing the pop, for example, induce greater or lesser enjoyment? What about participating in opening the bottle? Does smelling the wine before drinking have an impact? Do different types of cork cause the wine to taste differently? The researchers plan to find out.

Logic suggests that wines stored with corks likely different—the cork allows fresh air to enter the bottle while air inside gets out—corks allow the wine to "breathe," unlike screwcaps, which hold everything in place.

The debate over which storage method tastes better extends beyond those who drink wine—winemakers, too, have engaged in such arguments, making assertions that until now have not been based on objective facts. It is likely many will be rooting for the screw cap, however, as approximately 20 percent of wine that is bottled with a cork is lost to cork taint—a fungus that ruins the wine.

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1 / 5 (1) Jul 28, 2017
Researchers paid by Cork manufacturers will 'prove' that a corked bottle of wine is a sublimely superior product.

Researchers paid by Screw-cap manufacturers will 'prove' that metal capped wines are unquestionably of superior quality.

Next week, manufacturers of plastic lids will be paying researchers to 'prove' that they the 'New Saviors' of oenophiles everywhere!

Let's see, if I invest in a metal mine, which method should I righteously advocate?

If I'm a vintner, drowning in a glut of liquid pleasure. All my competitors losing 20% of their overproduction to quirky corky? I should feel bed about driving up the prices I sell my wine for?

Okay in addition to a glut of wine, I bought into an oil-field and now have a glut of petroleum. What new products will I have to invest in now to push my oil? Like, say plastique?

Frankly my dear, you all exhaust me! I'm going to tap a keg and get plastered...
not rated yet Jul 29, 2017
sounds a very cynic rrwillsj...but unfortunately he scribbles a precise picture of the reality of the 'researches' of this type conducted in many 'advanced' countries... in addition to food and beverage, many other products such as nutrition supplements, cosmetics, drugs, therapies ... are promoted with 'solid scientific' support. the more you sell, the more profit you make and the more money you can spend to 'support' research which would invariably support your product...a nice cycle....
not rated yet Jul 29, 2017
While they're at it they should includ wine directly from the cask ...and as an added bonus wine stored in an amphora with a palm fiber stopper (I really wonder how the ancient way of storing wine would hold up).
not rated yet Jul 29, 2017
While they're at it they should includ wine directly from the cask ...and as an added bonus wine stored in an amphora with a palm fiber stopper (I really wonder how the ancient way of storing wine would hold up).

were amphora's glazed? (storage amphora were not glazed - wiki) seems to me the wine would seep through the fired clay and evaporate, cooling the contents.
not rated yet Jul 29, 2017
were amphora's glazed?

I dunno. There have been amphoras being recovered from 2000 year old shipwrecks where the wine was still intact, so I guess they can be pretty tight.
1 / 5 (1) Jul 29, 2017
You all bring up some interesting questions about amphora used to store and ship liquids.

I would suspect that the original manufacturers used special clay's for an acidic product such as wine? And barley beer also? Olive oil possibly? To prevent it souring. And garum?

Oh man, think of the stench when a careless deckhand broke one of those!
1 / 5 (1) Aug 02, 2017
If I correctly understand the Wino's mythology, corkage is not to let wine 'breathe'.

Corked bottles of wine, correctly stored on their sides, would have the wine blocking ingress of air. Though allowing egress of water vapor? Concentrating the flavors of wines stored a long time ?

What I have been told by wine-snobs, is, that red wines, when opened, should be carefully decanted to avoid stirring up the sediments.

Then allowed to sit exposed to the air to accept oxygen? As this will allow it's proper richness to develop. And if there is any of that wine left afterwards in the decanter, it is only usable immediately for cooking.

My suspicion is, the reason the flavors of the wine are improved is not the exposure to air. But giving the wine decanted, time for any sediment inadvertently remaining to settle out!
not rated yet Aug 04, 2017
Where are the results?
3 / 5 (2) Aug 05, 2017
Where are the results?"

I'd suss they drank all the evidence...

...and then pissed it away!

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