Wine Book Club, Third Edition: To Cork or Not To Cork

By Kori ~ June 24th, 2008.

Thank you for joining us for the third “virtual meeting” of the Wine Book Club. Many thanks to Dr. Debs of Good Wine Under $20 who originally proposed the idea for the WBC where bloggers and wine lovers all over the world come together for book reviews and discussions every other month after reading a selected text. Our host for this edition is Lenn Thompson of LENNDEVOURS and the text he selected was To Cork or Not To Cork: Tradition, Romance, Science, and the Battle for the Wine Bottle by George M. Taber.

George M. Taber is a dedicated wine enthusiast and author of the critically acclaimed book, Judgment of Paris. In his most recent work, To Cork or Not To Cork, Mr. Taber takes us through the history of wine closures going back to ancient times. He addresses issues with wine’s most used closure to date, the cork, as well as discusses some new alternative closures that have come into the market. For a “wine-head” like myself, I found the book quite interesting but was disappointed to find that after reading all 270 pages, Taber never definitively answers the question posed in the title of whether to cork or not to cork. A more appropriate title for this book would be The History of Wine Closures.

My own conclusion is that the wine industry must continue to work diligently to find the perfect alternative closure to cork. The wine industry cannot stay viable as an industry when five percent or more of all bottles opened are flawed by a tainted cork and when a person has no clue whether an expensive bottle they bought years ago for a special occasion and stored properly will be good when they open it. While the cork industry has been forced to improve, cork is still not the perfect closure.

After reading this book, it appears to me that some type of glass stopper ultimately has the best shot at becoming the perfect closure. In the interim, the screwcap is the best option available (especially for white wines and young red wines); however, winemakers have to prepare the wine differently for a screwcap than for a cork due to the reduction versus oxidation issue.

If someone can figure out how to make the glass stopper go “pop” when opened, they’ll probably have the market locked up all to themselves.

If you’ve already read the book, please leave a comment and let us know what you thought of it.

Filed under: Wine Book Club, Wine Books

Reader's Comments

  1. Dr. Debs | June 24th, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    Great review, Kori. I had the same reaction, but couldn’t describe it. In the end I thought, ok, so what are we supposed to DO? I love those glass closures, but seldom buy a wine that is $$, so they don’t appear that much in my cellar. The composite corks do, and the plastic–but I hate the plastic. I was surprised that the issue over corks extended as far back into history as it does, and that even way back when glass was seen as the ultimate stopper. I think you’re right: if someone could make them cheap and pop, they would make millions.