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No More Corks

Posted by Janie Franz Categories: Trends, Storage Tips, Wine,

CorksOpening a bottle of good wine with a corkscrew may soon be a thing of the past. Because of the shrinkage of acreage that grows cork trees, corks have become scarce and wine makers have sought alternative ways to seal wine. 

First came the plastic corks that don’t crumble like the natural corks do when a corkscrew is applied to them. A number of American wineries that changed to plastic discovered a side benefit. They didn’t have to worry about “corking,” a contamination that sometimes occurs in wine when it is exposed to a bad cork. Sometimes, corks can contain bacteria that can spoil a wine. At other times, the cork just gets musty smelling or bits break off into the wine. These are two conditions that can make the wine not as pleasant to drink.

Recently, more wineries are actually sealing their bottles with screw tops. Though many wine aficionados turned their noses up at the thought, equating it with skid-row wines or fruity college beverages of the past, they soon found that screw tops actually kept even the finest wines at their peak. And, screw tops preserve leftover wine better in the fridge, without it going flat.


Meritage WinesDubbed eighteen years ago in a naming contest sponsored by three Napa Valley wine makers, these wines combined the best qualities of the French varietals Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon (the “merit”) grown here in the US with the blending tradition of Old World Bordeaux (the “heritage”). The result was a line of red and white table wines that was uniquely American. The White Meritage, in particular, is hearty enough to satisfy the hardened Chardonnay enthusiast but is much softer on the palate and tends to age better. It also is less expensive. Though there are more than 150 American wineries producing Meritage wines, they have caught on in Mexico, Canada, and even in Israel and Australia. You can pick up White Meritage wines from California growers like Murrieta’s Well, Lyeth, and St. Supery.

wine bottlesMost people think of salads as being appetizers or palate cleansers. A simple green salad dressed in oil and vinegar is just that. But summer salads can be your entire meal or half of it if paired with a sandwich or soup. Serving a wine with them can enhance your dining experience.

But which wine? The trick here is to consider the weight of the salad, its ingredients, and the acidity of the salad dressing. If you have a salad with meats or grilled vegetables, serve something heartier like a Chardonnay or a Pinot Noir. If your salad has arugula, escarole, or other peppery greens, use a Petite Syrah or Zinfandel.

If you have added cheese, pair the wine as you would a fruit. For example, if you have a blue cheese or Roquefort, you would normally serve it with pears or other sweet, mild fruits. Pair it with a sweeter wine like a Riesling or Gewurztraminer. A smoked cheese in a salad can handle a strong red wine.

If berries or other sweet fruit are in your salad, a Pinot Noir is excellent. Subtle fruits like apple, melon, pear, or mango can be paired with a Chardonnay, a Sauvignon Blanc, or a Riesling.

To avoid the acid in your salad dressing from competing with the acid in your wine, try using fruit juice (orange or lemon) or a sweet balsamic vinegar instead of regular vinegar.

But most of all, have fun and experiment with different wine choices with your summer salads. Buy a couple of different types of wine. If something doesn’t quite jive, try the other one. Keep experimenting.