Master Sommelier Michael Meagher explains what everyone — trade and consumers included — needs to know about wines under screwcap. In addition to being one of the few people in the world to hold the MS title, Michael holds a WSET Diploma, a Bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, an Associate’s degree from the Culinary Institute of America, and a Master’s degree from the University of Adelaide in Australia — as well as nearly 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry. He began his career in the wine industry with Master Sommelier Fred Dame‘s handpicked luxury sales team at Treasury Wine Estates, was a corporate educator and regional sales manager for TWE and later, Jackson Family Wines, and through his company Sommelier On Demand, Michael consults for companies and organizations such as Ruth’s Chris Steak House, America’s Test Kitchen, Vins de Provence, Johnson and Wales University, Nantucket Wine & Food Festival, Silicon Valley Bank, Bottle Rocket, and many others. His writing has been published in the Journal of Culinary Science and Technology, the Guild of Sommeliers, and the Sommelier Journal. Additionally, he serves as Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Directors for the Boston Sommelier Society. Perhaps most relevant to this episode, Michael’s Masters thesis was focused on wines under screw cap.
Why do we close wine bottles with corks to begin with?
Michael explains the history behind how winemakers began closing wine bottles with corks, and what went wrong. Ironically, the cork issues we have today are in part due to keeping things clean!
Where the good corks go, and how the bad corks led to alternative closures.
Michael details the different grades of corks, and why winemakers in Australia and New Zealand began experimenting with screw cap closures for their wines.
What issues other than TCA can cause cork taint? (a.k.a., a wine smelling “corked”)
Along the way, you’ll learn how to pronounce trichloroanisole.
How wines age under screwcap.
Michael dispels the myth that in order to age properly, wine needs a cork in order to “breathe.” As it turns out, wines under screwcap can breathe just as well, and in fact, can be fine-tuned to allow in an amount of air based on a wine’s character.
Why even expensive, age-worthy wines for the cellar can and should be closed with screw caps.
Yes, even the great Bordeaux, Brunello, Barolo, Barbaresco, and every other awesome wine beginning with a “B” (as well as wines that start with other letters).
How the flaw of “reduction” occurs in screwcapped wines — and corked wines as well.
Woops! Turns out it’s a problem for BOTH closures!
Why unidentifiable flaws — i.e., those that are not necessarily full-blown cork taint / TCA — are the perhaps the biggest problem facing restaurants, sommeliers, and wine producers.
Who wants a customer to go home unhappy?
Why we in the wine industry should not accept a 7-8% failure rate when it comes to cork closures.
The only industry accepting a bigger failure rate is baseball, where you’re successful if you fail 70% of the time.
How a sommelier can bring romance and drama to the presentation of a screw-capped wine in a restaurant.
OK, maybe not romance, but, Michael does give great tips on how to bring a bit of creativity to remove a screw cap.
Why younger drinkers and the older sommeliers tend to be more accepting of screw caps, and the older drinkers and younger sommeliers seem to be more comfortable with cork.
Wait, what? Yes, seems like a contradiction, but it may be true.
How a sommelier can defuse the situation when a customer seems surprised by seeing a wine closed with a screw cap.
“Waiter! There’s a fly in my soup! And a screwcap on my wine bottle!”
Learn more about Michael Meagher at his website – http://sommelierondemand.com
You can follow Michael on Twitter @sommondemand
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