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Does bringing screw-cap wine to a party look cheap?


What is the acceptable wine closure – screw cap or cork – to bring to a host/dinner party? I have been under the impression that cork should be brought and that metal twist tops would be perceived as cheap.


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You've raised a dilemma that plagues me (and I'm certain other readers) often.

We are still in the early days of the screw-cap boom, even though an estimated 17 per cent of wines now come sealed with that type of closure. Many people remain tied to the notion that aluminum signifies cheap wine. They'd be surprised to learn than many exceedingly expensive wines – I'm talking $100-plus a bottle – twist open. It's not a cost issue for quality wineries but rather a way to spare consumers from the scourge of cork taint, a foul-smelling, if harmless, pollutant that ruins many wines without warning.

I have bestowed many a screw-cap wine on dinner hosts, so consider me a true believer (I am sensitive to cork taint and loathe it). But sometimes I feel compelled to mutter a lame apology. It usually goes something like this: "Hey, I brought you a really cool wine. It's got a screw cap, but, trust me, it's serious stuff. Don't try to empty it into the marinade when I'm not looking." That kind of spoils the grace of the gesture, of course. It's sort of like saying, "Here's your gift. I paid a lot for this sucker. You'd better appreciate it." That's why I prefer the term "serious" rather than "expensive." But people expect a wine critic to bring decent wine to a party, so they probably figure I'm being sincere.

For most people eager to make an impression, cork, alas, is still the anxiety-free preference. If you're fond of a particular screw-cap wine that would make a fine gift, though, you could try my approach and hand it over with a word of reassurance. You could even tell them that virtually all the fine wines made in New Zealand are bottled under screw cap. Or you could tell them that The Globe and Mail's wine critic brings twist-open bottles to parties all the time.

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E-mail your wine and spirits questions to Beppi Crosariol. Look for answers to select questions to appear in the Wine & Spirits newsletter and on The Globe and Mail web site.

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