Wine: Cork or Cap? It matters

Let's get sophisticated. And drunk.

Red wines have tannins. “Tannins are very important to red wine. They provide color, flavor and structure to a wine as well as acting as a preservative.” They contribute to the wine’s astringency (that dry mouth feel in red wines). The tannin content of a red wine is dependent on its age.

You may hear about a red wine being “very new”. This simply means it hasn’t had any time to mellow; it will be very astringent and quite tart. Generally, red wine from a certain year will start showing up a couple years after it was fermented, at the earliest. These will taste new.

That’s fine. Serve them with flavourful cheese or grilled beef and it will taste great.

But pay attention to how they are sealed.

I’ve been paying attention to the Niagara region’s wines for the last 5 years. The missus and I visit every year and tour the wineries, picking different ones nearly every time, and also visiting our favourites. That’s a blog post in itself and I mention it only in passing to inform my next statement.

2010 wines from the Niagara region are the best the region has produced, according to the winemakers themselves. (They think 2012 might beat it because of dry summer. Yay climate change!).

If you are lucky enough to be able to try wines from Niagara, you might start seeing 2010 reds popping up. And now that you know my hot tip about 2010 wines, you’ll snatch some up and save them for later, thinking you are oh so sophisticated. And you should think that, dear reader: you are a discerning, erudite and fabulously attractive individual.

But let’s get even more sophisticated.

Take a gander at the top of the bottle. Is it a cap or cork? It matters.

Wine in a capped bottle will taste the same as when it was bottledĀ no matter when you open it. That bad boy is locked up tight so no air gets in, so the wine doesn’t breath, or age. This applies to any alcohol, by the way: buying an 18-year Scotch and not opening it for 5 years doesn’t make it a 23-year Scotch; it just makes you daft for not drinking all that Scotch and getting more Scotch.

Wine in a corked bottle can be aged. This will allow the tannins to mellow and change the wine’s flavour. Store it on its side, so the cork can stay wet and let that bad boy become wise and gentlemanly with a few years resting.

Now, you may think that I recommend only getting corked wines. Not so. I’m no douche bag; well, I try not to be, at least.

If you’ve got some capped reds and want to “age” them, just decant them: basically, pour it out of the bottle. There is special glassware expressly for that purpose, but any old jug will work. They say for every hour in the decanter, the wine ages a year.

Time to drink to some wine, I think.

Jason Kemp is a geek trapped in a cool guy's body. He hand crafts software for the web and mobile devices. He excels at user interface design, the deadlift and barbecue. He is @ageektrapped across the internet.

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