Storing Screwcaps

Twist-tops aka screwcaps, are a relatively new phenomenon in the world of wine.  Things have come a long way since the days of sealing amphorae with pitch or resin. Although in retrospect ramming a bit of tree bark in the neck of bottles seems a bit archaic too.  But now is now and here we are with our terribly modern screwcaps, sealed with a squishy wad of co-extruded polyethylsomething.  The question is, how do we store wines sealed this way?  In the bark-in-bottle days, the cork would eventually dry out and shrink, losing its seal.  The best way to postpone this was to lay the bottle on its side, thus keeping the cork moist.  Polyethylthingy does not dry and shrink, so screwcapped bottles do not need to be kept on their sides; you can keep them at whatever angle you like.

But here’s a thought.  The standard, straight-sided bottle was designed specifically to be stored lying on its side, stacked up.  It has been well argued that the design, initially meant for ease of handling and storage actually made the long-term cellaring of wine practical.  Some wines then evolved into styles that really benefited from cellaring.  The bottle-cork combination came first, modern clarets, vintage ports and so on (including our red wines, such as Durif) came later, and as a direct consequence.

So, store your screwcaps however you want, but pause to ponder the complex way technology always leads, but not necessarily in directions we anticipate.  Screwcaps are a great closure, keeping wines fresher, yet still allowing development.  How will this drive winemaking and wine styles over the next century? – Now there’s a question…