Alternative wine closures?

Yes, these are substitute closures used in the wine industry for sealing wine bottles in place of traditional cork closures.

What are they?

1. Synthetic corks: They are made from plastic compounds designed to look and "pop" like natural cork. They avoid the TCA or trichloroamisole contamination but have certain disadvantages such as a risk of harmful air entering the bottle after 18 months as well as the difficulty of extracting the cork from the bottle.

2. Screw caps or Stelvin caps: These are closures made only from aluminium that threads onto the bottleneck. They are the predominant closure used by New Zealand wineries. Quality tests show that apart from protecting against cork taint, screwcaps are beneficial in the aging of wine, particularly preserving the aromatic freshness. However, in some cases, after the first ten years, the plastic in the caps may go brittle and let air in or the cap may go through a process of sulphidisation by which the sulphur in the wine reeks, thus altering and spoiling the bouquet of the wine.

3. Vino-Seal or Vino-lok: This is a plastic/glass closure released by Alcoa. This method, which uses a glass stopper with an inert o-ring, creates a hermetic seal which prevents oxidation and TCA contamination. However, the plug is costly and so is the manual bottling due to the lack of compatible bottling equipment outside Europe.

4. Zork: This alternative closure, invented in South Australia by McKenna and Brooks, seals like a screw cap and pops like a cork. It consists of three parts:

a. an outer cap providing a  clamp locking onto the band of a standard cork mouth bottle.
b. an inner metal foil which acts as an oxygen barrier similar to a screw cap.
c. an inner plug that creates a "pop" on extraction and reseals after use.

5. Crown caps: They have been used in the sparkling wine industry, as a closure during the bottle fermentation process. The cap is replaced with a cork before shipping. Crown caps provide a tight seal without risking cork-taint. Although they are easier to open, crown caps eliminate part of the ceremony and mystique of opening a sparkling one.

OK, then. Should we be romantic or practical? Come on, let´s make up your minds!

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