The same wine under cork and screwcap

Herald on Sunday column

A tale of two whites

By Joelle Thomson

This column was first published as Cheers in Living magazine in The Herald on Sunday, Auckland, New Zealand, 19 April 2015.

It’s an oldie but a goodie. Take two different wines, conceal their identities, then ask friends to guess what’s in each bottle. It works a treat, especially when the host is a winemaker. Talk about playing with your mind; or mine, as the case was at Mount Edward winery in Central Otago earlier this year. Both were red, so they had to be Pinot Noir, right? That was the easy part.
As anyone who likes wine knows, a small thing can make a big difference. So, what was different? Temperature of the wine? More oak in one? Same wine from difference vintages?
None of the above. Winemaker Duncan Forsyth poured two 2008 Mt Edward Pinot Noirs: one sealed with screwcap, the other with cork. They were identical when first bottled but different now; screwcaps guarantee uniformity whereas corks can impart a taste and can allow oxygen into the bottle. Both wines were good but, before we knew their identities, I preferred the screwcapped version because it was fresher. Another closure that is gaining ground is the wine keg. It is growing in use in bars and it saves space, saves on recycling and guarantees freshness for 19 litres at a time. Depot in downtown Auckland serves Mount Edward Pinot Noir this way. Check it out when the restaurant reopens.