From cork to screw cap: Three wine closure anecdotes from China

Changing of the guard? Side by side in my local corner shop.


By Jim Boyce

While most wine in China — whether domestically produced or imported — is bottled under cork, and while I repeatedly hear this is what consumers want, we are seeing more screw caps. Three recent cases:

1. I saw the above two bottles of China favorite Cabernet Sauvignon in my local corner shop (see full shots below). The wine is from Concha y Toro, a major brand by volume here. The bottle at front right is 2010, the ones at left and in back are 2011. (I mentioned the change  in closures to the employee on duty. He tried to look interested for about 15 seconds.)

2. This blog held its fourth annual Grape Wall Challenge in Beijing yesterday, with Chinese consumers blind-tasting wines under rmb100. We had a badly corked wine on the first flight of reds. That allowed us to explain the smell to the consumers and what might have caused it, which was news to most of them. This year’s challenge saw a mix of closure types, with over one third of the entries being under screw caps.

3. As noted here, Grace Vineyard in Shanxi has started putting wines under screw cap, including the experimental 2011 “Tau Fu” bottled for company use. I’ve taste-tested it on over100 people — from Masters of Wine to non-wine drinking former colleagues — and people generally like the wine and label, and forget, if it was a concern in the first place, the wine is under screw cap. Look for Grace to launch its screw cap wines in the market next year.

Anyway, just a few anecdotes to share, and I’m sure there are more to come.

2010 on the right, 2011 on the left.

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