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Ask a Somm: Can You Age Screw Cap Wine?

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About thirty percent of the wine on offer at Chicago's Embeyaa modern pan-Asian restaurant with French accents—is screw cap. And, according to owner and wine director Attila Gyulai, it's the younger generation that seems more apt to purchase such bottles. While research is ongoing about the affects of time on screw cap wine, below, Gyulai shares his two cents on the subject.

Q: What's the deal with screw cap wine and aging? First I heard that you can't age screw cap wine, and then I recently heard you can.

Gyulai: This is certainly a fascinating topic, it’s as complex as wine itself. At Embeya, roughly 30 percent of our 400 label wine program is screw cap. Our list is very Riesling-heavy, with just about 80 Riesling labels. I’ve noticed that guests are pretty open to or accepting of screw caps on younger Rieslings from Germany and Australia, for example.

In terms of how screw cap bottles can age and how the top changes the wine, I, personally, believe this really remains to be seen. As screw cap technology advances, we’ll continue to see developments such as how the screw cap bottles available today, with calculated levels of oxygen, ingress.

It has been proven that screw cap wines can, indeed, age well.

The true test is tasting the same wine, stored in the same cellar, with a screw cap and a regular cork. Last year I did a side-by-side tasting of a 2004 Syrah from Australia bottled with a cork and a screw cap. While there was a noticeable difference in brightness on the palate and with the color, it was not better or worse—it was just different. That "difference" will take a lot of time and taste-testing to fully comprehend. It will also be interesting to see how different varietals and regions behave with the screw cap trend, like with a screw cap aged red Bordeaux, or a Vouvray.

From a personal perspective, I would purchase age-worthy wines with screw caps and store them appropriately. It has been proven that screw cap wines can, indeed, age well. I also find it interesting to note that Generation X appears to be more comfortable buying and collecting high-end screw cap bottles.

To close, about 80 percent of the wine purchased in the U.S. is consumed within 24 hours, just to give some perspective on how much wine really is not affected by the influx of screw cap bottling. Most of it is consumed immediately, and never actually ages once it hits the consumers’ hands.

Lots of great Rieslings and Grüners are screw caps:

Künstler Riesling, Rheingau Germany ($25)
Gunderloch Riesling, "Jean Baptiste" Rheinhessen, Germany ($12)
Albert Mann Riesling, "Cuvée Albert" Alsace, France ($27)
Prieler Pinot Blanc, "Seeberg" Burgerland, Austria ($27)
Bernhard Ott, Grüner Veltliner, "Fass 4," Wagram, Austria ($26)

And some fantastic "fresh" reds are:

Ponzi Pinot Noir, "Tavola," Oregon ($22)
Mouton Noir Pinot Noir, "OPP," Oregon ($20)
Sauska Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah, Villany, Hungary ($16)

Embeya

564 W Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60661

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