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