One of my favorite sitcoms of all time is Night Court. In one memorable episode, Dan Fielding, the Lothario of all prosecutors (played brilliantly by John Larroquette), finally gets his chance to bed his nemesis, defense attorney Christine Sullivan. Always the…ahem…gentleman, Dan takes Christine out for dinner, orders some bubbly, and the maître d' delivers a classic line:
"Chateau Libido isn't one of our usual selections. Shall I unscrew it for you?"
Screwcaps and cheap wine have a long association. For years, only wines of last resort had screwtops instead of corks. These wines generally could be found comfortably nestled in paper bags in the hands of…well…people who regularly drink wines of last resort. For many years, screwcaps had this unfortunate association.
Oxygen is generally the #1 enemy of wine. If you've ever had the misfortune to drink from a bottle with a deteriorated cork, you know that vinegar taste well. In addition, there's a chemical compound called TCA that can form in a cork when moisture, chlorine, and mold interact. This causes a wine to taste like damp cardboard. When a wine takes on this flavor, it’s said to be “corked” – an affliction affecting about one bottle per case of imported wine, on average.
Enter the "Stelvin closure." Stelvins were invented in the 1950's in
The Stelvin's popularity continues to spread. About 10 percent of all wine bottled worldwide now are sealed with screwtops. Two issues prevent screwtops from becoming more widespread. First, aging. No one knows how well wine will age in a screwtop bottle. Second, romance. Many feel there's something magical to that "pop" of a freshly drawn cork.
Since we're not worried about aging and you can open wines in another room -- I say ease of use wins out. Worse to be caught corkscrewless than seem cheap. Also, since you can twist the top back on and the seal is airtight, the wine maintains taste for a longer period of time. So, try a couple of these and twist to your heart's content:
Twin Wells 2004 Terra Australis Reserve
Verget du Sud 2006 Rosé de Syrah -- Not even the stodgy French could resist the temptation of the Stelvin. Winemaker Jean-Marie Guffens is a traveler. He wanders
Any of these selections would be superior to D.A. Fielding’s choice of sparkling wine. But few men have walked the earth armed with a better coup de grace than Dan’s clincher:
"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways....I know 52 of them."