Tom's blog

Popping a cork influences a wine's perception

There is an unending debate over screw-top closures. Do they preserve wine better and avoid cork taint -- or will they affect the flavors when the wine is stored over time?

Early research shows that screw-tops don't impart any artificial flavor to wine, but new research knows the mental impact they have on consumers.

Researchers at the Crossmodal Research Laboratory at Oxford University queried 140 participants who sampled two Argentinian malbecs, one with a cork and the other with a screw-top. The wines -- a Terrazas de los Andes and a Catena -- were tasted after the participants listened to a cork being removed and then a screw-top being opened. They were then asked to resample the wines after they personally opened bottles sealed with corks and screw-tops. They were unaware that were trying the same wines but sealed differently.

When asked, participants rated the cork-sealed bottles 15 percent better in quality. Only 13 out of participants said they preferred a screw-top.

Also cited as an influencing factor of whether the environment was festive. A popping cork, in other words, enhanced a celebratory mood.

I'm not surprised by any of this. Unleashing the fury of a cork influences perceptions. People are eager to enjoy wine and celebrate. Let the good times roll.