Let’s Do the Twist!

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Everyone’s twisting these days. And it’s not a throwback to the dance craze of the 1960s.

Maybe we’d be more accurate if we said, “un-twisting.” We’re referring to the increasingly prevalent screwtop bottles of wine. We used to associate screwtop wines with winos swigging out of brown paper bags. But screwtop wines have become de rigueur.


Even though screwtops have been around for a long time, they weren’t favored by either consumers or producers. Cork was the standard. But when corks starting causing problems for winemakers, attitudes started changing.


Corks can become infected with a chemical called TCA. The infected corks, in turn, can ruin the wine inside the bottle. This “corked” wine smells like someone’s dank basement and tastes worse. This is not what wine producers intend to happen to their wines, and – because it was happening to an estimated 7-10% of all wines with cork closures – they began to look for alternatives to cork.


There’s no shortage of substitutes from plastic corks to glass stoppers. But it’s the screwtop that has, so far, emerged as the winner. Screwtop wines gained public acceptance years ago in Australia and New Zealand but only lately here in the U.S. In fact, when we were importing New Zealand wines in the 1990s the bottles had ridges necessary for screwtops, but the bottles had corks because the producers knew that Americans would look down their noses at wine that had to be unscrewed.


No one is 100% sure how screwtops will affect the long term aging of wines. But most wines are ready to drink upon release – so we’re not worrying about it. We’ll leave that to the winemakers.


We’ve been embracing the screwtop for several years. In 2011, to launch our book, The Saucy Sisters Guide to Wine – What Every Girl Should Know Before She Unscrews, we gathered a couple hundred women (and numerous cases of Lonely Cow Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir) and set a World Record for “most women unscrewing bottles of wine simultaneously.”


Here’s to unscrewing!



Worm you way to wine knowledge!


Barbara and Beverly