Is a screw top better than a cork? A new experiment aims to find out!
It is a debate that has raged for decades among wine lovers. Which is better, a cork or a screw-top?
While traditionalists claim that only a cork allows wine to age correctly, modernists insist that the metal caps prevent oxidation and corking, and allow easy opening.
Now Oxford University is about to lift the lid on the argument.
A unique experiment designed by the university’s Crossmodal Research Laboratory launches this week to explore the impact that corks or screw-tops have on the sense.
Participants will be asked to rate how the sound, aroma, feel and sight of a series of different wine closures changes their perception and taste of a wine. As well as cork and screw caps ‘fake’ corks made from plastics and plant-based polymers will also be tested as well as metal flip tops will also be tested.
Researchers will also gather data on participants’ response to the taste and experience of the wine they are drinking by fitting participants with state-of-the-art brain-scanning headwear, monitoring their pleasure receptors as they take part in a further series of tests.
Scientists will record brainwaves from people while drinking the wine
Professor Charles Spence, head of experimental psychology at Oxford University, said: “This is a debate that has been ongoing in the wine industry for many years, and we hope this trial will go some way to providing a definitive answer to this fascinating question.
“Our brains have a powerful hold over our taste buds, and it will be interesting to see the differing effects the multi-sensory aspects of wine drinking have on our perception of taste.”
Corks have been the used to close bottles since the 1400s and so are historically proven in keeping wine good for a long time. Some specialists argue that the slow ingress of oxygen through the porous cork plays a vital role in aging a wine.
Prof. Charles Spence CREDIT: JEFF GILBERT /PROF. CHARLES SPENCE
The distinctive creak and pop of a wine cork also conjures up feelings of celebration, intimacy and relaxation, which can trigger sensations far beyond the simple taste of the wine.
As critic Jay Rayner has pointed out: “The crack of a screw top is not the same as the pop of a wine cork.”
However according to come wine experts up to 20 per cent of wine is spoilt by cork taint, a fungal contamination of the cork which gives a mouldy or wet cardboard flavour to even fine vintages.
Wine expert Oz Clarke said: “Some countries still think that screw-tops are cheap. They aren’t. A great deal of thought and investment has been put into continually improving them, and , with most types of wine they offer us, the drinkers, the most accurate version of what the winemaker was trying to do.
“There are still some wines – big bruisers like Cabernet Sauvignon, needing a few years to soften – that may be best with a cork closure, but the vast majority of the attractive, juicy, happy-spirited wines that most of us drink have been transformed by the advent of screw-top.”
Screw caps have only been used in wine since 1964 and became more common in the 1980s following a period of poor cork quality which left many bottles undrinkable.
Some sommeliers claim that screw-caps can cause a process known as ‘reduction’ which leads to a sulfur smell and can alter the taste. Yet experts claim the chance of getting a good bottle of wine is far higher with a screw top.
A study in 2004 by Oregon State University found that most consumers cannot tell the difference between a cork or a screw-top in a blind taste test.
However when shown a bottle, most would choose a corked bottle believing a screw-top to be of inferior quality. Participants in the study were also prepared to pay more for a bottle with a cork.
Neuroenological Tasting: The Grand Cork Experiment. Created in conjunction with Bompas & Parr, the live experiment will run from 28th – 29th July in London’s Soho.
To take part visit Billetto.
By: Sarah Knapton
***Grabbed from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2017/07/27/quick-screw-satisfying-pop-oxford-university-lift-lid-best-wine/