Screwcaps Increase in United States
AC Nielsen recently reported that in 2006, sales of wines bottled with screwcaps increased by 24.6% in the United States.
Paige Poulos, Founder of the Alliance for Innovative Wine Packaging (AIWP), released the news at the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in Sacramento. Because natural cork is widely believed to be susceptible to TCA taint, screwcaps are increasingly being used by wine producers. Wines bottled with screwcaps made up 4% of all sales of 750mL bottles of wine in 2006.
No one doubts that TCA taint is an issue, but the extent of this problem is widely disputed. Estimates of bottles affected by TCA range from 1% to 20%. While screwcaps solve the problem of TCA, many experts believe they adversely affect the ability of wine to age. This explains why most age-worthy red wines continue to be sealed with natural cork. According to AC Nielsen, “white wines, imports and wines priced $8 to $11.99,” are most likely to be sealed with screwcaps.
In regards to the potential of screwcaps to replace traditional cork, Poulos said, “The burgeoning market for innovative closures is not about direct competition with natural cork. This is about diversification and convenience, creating new opportunities for the enjoyment of wine as an everyday beverage, and expanding the market. In the immediate future, we see traditional packaging continuing to thrive, with screwcaps and other innovative closures seeing widespread consumer acceptance. This is a very healthy market dynamic.”
Screwcaps have clearly found a growing niche, and I agree with Poulos that this is less about direct competition with natural cork, (which will likely always be used for expensive red wines), and more about diversifying the choice of closures for wineries who are not making an age-worthy product.