Do the Twist

Ditch corkscrew in fa­vor of twist- off wines for ease on the wa­ter

RSWLiving - - Departments - BY GINA BIRCH

hen spend­ing the day on the wa­ter, the last thing you want to deal with is try­ing to get a cork out of a wine bot­tle. There’s noth­ing like a splash of Bordeaux on the bow to make the cap­tain see red. Twist- offs are fast and easy, help­ing to re­duce the risk of spillage on a boat.

The screw cap has been ma­ligned over the years, with purists hurl­ing ac­cu­sa­tions that it makes the wine bot­tle com­mon and de­val­ues what’s in­side. Sci­en­tific stud­ies are cur­rently un­der­way at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Davis, com­par­ing the in­tegrity of wines as they age, un­der both the cork and the cap.

Corks have an al­lure, a per­cep­tion of class. How­ever, cork is ex­pen­sive, and its seal is not al­ways re­li­able, caus­ing winer­ies to lose money due to ox­i­da­tion and so- called “cork taint.” Oxy­gen is the en­emy; when it finds its way into the bot­tle via a faulty clo­sure, the wine is no good.

Screw caps have been used for decades but were al­ways met with some level of re­sis­tance— un­til the 1990s, when winer­ies from Aus­tralia and New Zealand started us­ing them more. Even­tu­ally, wine­mak­ers glob­ally got on the band­wagon, i nclud­ing some high- end Napa Val­ley cabernet mak­ers. PlumpJack raised many eye­brows by putting a screw cap on its $ 130- a- bot­tle 1997 Re­serve Cabernet.

Some­thing in be­tween the cork and cap is the Zork Cork, found on wines bot­tled un­der the Leese- Fitch la­bel. You sim­ply un­furl the flex­i­ble plas­tic to find a sturdy top­per un­der­neath— a lit­tle less of­fen­sive to team “anti twist- off.”

Look­ing for a light red wine per­fect for your pasta sal­ads and grilled chicken? Pick up a bot­tle of the 2012 Leese- Fitch Pinot Noir. It smells like plums, rasp­ber­ries and vanilla, while its fla­vors are a de­li­cious com­bi­na­tion of your fa­vorite red fruits, mush­rooms and a lit­tle clove. Af­ford­able for a pinot, you’ll find it for un­der $ 15.

Vina Robles is a beau­ti­ful win­ery in Paso Robles, Cal­i­for­nia, with sev­eral wines in the port­fo­lio se­cured by a tidy screw cap, in­clud­ing the 2010 RED4. It’s a rich blend of syrah, pe­tite sirah, grenache, and mourve­dre that smells like plums. The oak in the wine is sub­tle; the spice is just right with juicy, dark ripe fruit. RED4 has a nice struc­ture for those big­ger grilled meats, a burger with blue cheese or steak kabobs.

SCREW CAPS HAVE BEEN USED FOR DECADES BUT WERE AL­WAYS MET WITH SOME LEVEL OF RE­SIS­TANCE— UN­TIL THE 1990S, WHEN WINER­IES FROM AUS­TRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND STARTED US­ING THEM MORE.

Vina Robles wine­maker Kevin Wil­len­borg says, “We know that mod­ern screw caps work great for wines that are lighter in style and are made to be con­sumed in their youth.” He continues, “That’s why you will see them on our white wines, as well as our RED4 blend. These wines em­pha­size vi­brancy and fresh­ness, and the screw cap does a mag­nif­i­cent job of pre­serv­ing these qual­i­ties.”

His 2012 WHITE4 is an un­usual viog­nier- based blend with verdelho, ver­mentino and a touch of sauvignon blanc. It smells trop­i­cal and on the palate has lay­ers of fruit with a crisp fin­ish. Try it with a shrimp cock­tail or grilled fish. Both of these wines ring in at un­der $ 20 a bot­tle.

An­other fan­tas­tic white blend, sans the cork, comes from well- known Napa win­ery Fran­cis­can Es­tate. Di­rec­tor of wine­mak­ing Janet My­ers says, “We’re re­ally ex­cited about this screw- cap clo­sure for the Fran­cis­can Equi­lib­rium. It pro­vides a beau­ti­ful pack­age and easy ac­cess in any set­ting. It’s a won­der­ful clo­sure for fresh, del­i­cate white wines.”

The 2012 Equi­lib­rium is a blend of sauvignon blanc with a lit­tle chardon­nay and mus­cat to round things out. Put your nose to the glass and breathe in the de­li­cious scents of peach and hon­ey­suckle. The glass will be hard to put down af­ter tast­ing the clean, crisp fla­vors of nec­tarine, peach and cit­rus. It’s an­other fan­tas­tic wine for your wa­ter­side cook­out in the $ 20 range.

An­other twist top in the same price range is a 100- per­cent sauvignon blanc from Justin Vine­yards in Paso Robles. Sauvignon blancs are well suited to South­west Florida cui­sine and sip­ping out­doors. This one has a

nice trop­i­cal nose with min­er­als and cit­rus fla­vors in the glass. Serve it with fresh seafood or tangy cheeses.

Rosé is an­other wine you can rarely go wrong with in South­west Florida. Lion’s Lair Rosé from South Africa is a fifty­fifty blend of cabernet and mer­lot grapes. It smells flo­ral and like straw­ber­ries. Don’t be fooled by the pretty pink color; this wine is dry and fin­ishes with lovely fla­vors of cherry. It’s great for sip­ping or serv­ing with seafood and sal­ads.

Find these wines for sale at re­tail­ers like Sani­bel’s Grog Shop, Cut Rate Liquor & Fine Wine and To­tal Wine or served at restaurants like the Joint, Rum Run­ners, Bistro 41 and Sun­shine Grille.

There will al­ways be some­thing ro­man­tic about the cer­e­mo­nial pop­ping of a cork. How­ever, there is also some­thing ap­peal­ing about the con­ve­nience of a screw cap, es­pe­cially while en­joy­ing your day along South­west Florida wa­ter­ways. Cheers! Gina Birch is a TV/ ra­dio broad­caster and free­lance writer from South­west Florida. You can read more of her mus­ings at the­birch­beat. blogspot. com.

Tasty twist- cap wines on dis­play at Vina Robles ( above); a beau­ti­ful

win­ery with vine­yards in Cal­i­for­nia’s Paso Robles wine coun­try.

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