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01.2012

Massachusetts Beverage Business

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archivedOnWineReport

SCREWCAPS vs. CORKS THE DEBATE CONTINUES

 It’s been at least a decade since Stelvin enclosures (AKA screwcaps) began regularly appearing on wine bottles. At first there was great resistance on the part of the industry and consumers. However, over the last few years, the trade has gradually come to accept and embrace the closures for their efficiency. Public acceptance has been slower but it continues to grow. But depending on which survey you read, screwcaps are either completely out of favor or the preferred choice for consumers. According to new studies conducted by research company Wine Intelligence for its “2O11 Closures Report”, acceptance of screwcaps on wine bottles has more than doubled among UK consumers over the past eight years. The survey suggests that 85% of the regular wine-drinking population now accepts screwcaps – compared to only 41% in 2OO3. Cork remains the most liked closure, but affinity levels have fallen slightly over the past eight years. While 51% of consumers say they actively like buying wines under cork, 42% prefer buying screwcapped wines – a figure that has increased sevenfold compared to eight years ago, when only 6% indicated a preference. Female wine drinkers in their 3Os and 4Os are the biggest drivers of screwcap acceptance, along with younger drinkers who have recently entered the wine category.

The research was based on online quota-based surveys of 1OOO adults who drink wine at least once a month. The full report also includes similar analysis of closure perceptions in the US and Australia, including data going back to 2OO7. However, on the flip side of this is a US survey conducted by Tragon Corp., which says that 94 percent of respondents said they would be more likely to purchase wine with natural cork. A nearly equal number, 93 percent, said that natural cork conveys high or very high quality. Other key results include findings such as: Only 45 percent of respondents said they would consider purchasing wine with a screwcap. Seventy-two percent said they would consider wines with a synthetic closure. For gifts, dinner parties and special occasions, as many as 9O percent of respondents said they would prefer wines sealed with cork. Sixty percent of respondents said wines with synthetic closures were inappropriate for gifts, and 78 percent indicated they would not consider giving screwcapped wines as gifts. Half of respondents thought that wines with a screwcap were of low quality. Only 11 percent indicated that screwcaps conveyed high quality. However, these results should be taken with a grain of salt. The web-based survey was commissioned by the Cork Quality Council and taken by a mere 347 consumers throughout the San Francisco and Chicago metropolitan areas in October. As more and more wines are being enclosed with screwcaps and more people seem to favor them, these results seem somewhat skewed. What is clear is that there’s no slam-dunk for either type of closure.

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