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james laube's wine flights

Is It a Twist or a Screw?

Photo by: Greg Gorman

Posted: Nov 2, 2006 11:40am ET

The other night at a rollicking party in Napa, a woman who works in the wine business approached me about alternative closures.

She works for a big company in the valley and they are tired of the hassles with corks.

She said she appreciated my taking a stand on ... pause ... “What do you call them?”

I call them twist-offs, I said, and then without thinking too much, explained my use of that term. It’s because that’s the action we use to remove the cap. We twist if off.

Others call them screw caps, which, for me is the process of putting the seal on the bottle. You screw it on.

For what seems like obvious reasons, I prefer the term twist-off, or twisty for short, to screw cap.

Something about that word screw doesn’t have the right ring.

How about you? What do you call them? What should we call them? Does it really matter?

I think adopting one term would be a positive step. I suppose I can even learn to live with screw cap. Well, maybe not.
Paul Lin
Irvine —  November 2, 2006 12:31pm ET
I have no problem with the word "screwcap." After all, the word "cork" is not exactly pleasant either.
Mary Constant
Calistoga —  November 2, 2006 1:01pm ET
Twisty...screw cap...twist off...It sounds like the basic question is whether there is an elegant sounding term for this type of closure on a bottle of wine.
Jeffrey Ghi
New York —  November 2, 2006 1:53pm ET
Metal Enclosure. Or just call it a "Top". "They are tired of the hassles of 'Tops'".
Sao Anash
Santa Barbara —  November 2, 2006 2:15pm ET
James, I actually use a more archaic term, though I don't know why I started using it. I don't really like "screw cap", as it seems to devalue the wine. Maybe it's just negative connotations, but when I hear "screw cap" I immediately think cheap (jug) wine. So, when I started drinking wines that I like, that have that type of closure, I began calling it the "lid." Just like jars of fine olives have lids, or fine truffle oils, have lids, so a fine wine can also have a lid. Maybe it's silly, but the word "lid" just sounds more elegant to me.
Alan Vinci
springfield, n.j. —  November 2, 2006 3:32pm ET
"Twist closure"....or "twist-off", but definitly not "screw-off", your guests may walk out on you.
Jj Gallagher
Near Napa, Ca —  November 2, 2006 3:56pm ET
James- What do you think of the glass cap/seals being used by Whitehall Lane? I think they are a bit more elegant than the twisty.
David Nerland
Scottsdale —  November 2, 2006 3:59pm ET
I would call them caps. What they will do is end the problem with "corked" bottles. As a friend of mine told me, the last thing you want with a very expensive bottle of wine is to wait 25 years and then have it corked.
Tom Fiorillo
Denver, CO —  November 2, 2006 5:16pm ET
What about using the term Stelvin or Stelcap? I know they're probably trademarks but so are Kleenix, Frisbee and Xerox.
James Laube
Napa, CA —  November 2, 2006 5:28pm ET
I like the glass tops, but they're too expensive for most wines.
Harvey Steiman
San Francisco, CA —  November 2, 2006 7:44pm ET
Jim,

I like the simple "cap," too.

My favorite comes from my wife, Carol, who refers to the wines as being bottled "under spiral."

Maybe "spiral cap"?
Randy Sloan
St. Helena, CA —  November 2, 2006 7:54pm ET
I call them "alternative" closures but I've always been a bit too politically correct.
Charles J Stanton
Eugene, OR —  November 2, 2006 7:55pm ET
How about 'Rotational Extraction Device Independent Non-organic Alloy-based Closure' or REDINAC for short. The only problem I seem to be having is cutting my nose when I try to sniff the darn things.
James Laube
Napa, CA —  November 2, 2006 8:04pm ET
Not bad, Harv, but Carol's (as usual) is better...
James Laube
Napa, CA —  November 2, 2006 8:05pm ET
Charles, that sounds like something that belongs on the space shuttle...
Mark Lewis
Napa —  November 3, 2006 12:55am ET
Maybe we should call the whole enclosure a "capsule", it's not just for foil anymore...or perhaps... Clockwise Rotational Additive Preventer, aka CRAP (Just kidding on that last one...)
Gary Stoyan
Sherman Oaks, CA —  November 3, 2006 8:00am ET
Seems pretty obvious but Screw Cap is what it is. And Twist-off is what it does. How about Unscrewcap, James? Just glad were seeing more of them! And very funny Charles.
Jonathan Lawrence
November 3, 2006 8:35am ET
How about "metal cap"? This would distinguish it from anything in cork or synthetic, indicate that it is not inserted into the bottle, plus it would focus on its materials rather than the manner of its removal (which is only incidental, after all, until the moment arrives), as we do with "cork". I'm not sure, though, if all of the alternative closures contain metal. I do dislike the borrowing of "twist off" to form a noun.
Karl Mark
Geneva, IL. —  November 3, 2006 9:00am ET
How about Rotational Extraction Device In-organic Easy Cap (REDNEC)...well maybe not. On another topic James do you ever have problems receiving futures from the west coast?? I'm stuck in wine futures hell from a wine store/restuarant out by you.
Bill Emmerich
IOWA —  November 5, 2006 6:20pm ET
I like the idea of a cap and to "UN-CAP", similar to the current term many use, "uncork", a bottle or two. And then there is just the generic phase, "let's open a bottle or two and toast to any modern closure - they all beat cork or straw, cloth and wax" I wonder if "purists" back then fought to resist cork ???
Charles J Stanton
Eugene, OR —  November 6, 2006 12:53am ET
Personally, I long for the days of amphora sealed with olive oil and resin. That was spoiled by some Etruscan wine merchant who tired of the relentlessly jabbering Phoenecian shipper/distributor, and said "Hey buddy, put a cork in it!"
Troy Peterson
Burbank, CA —  November 7, 2006 1:18am ET
I know..... SNAP CAP! It's descriptive of the sound instead of the motion.I always loved the snapping sound that the caps made on wine coolers (back in the day when that was as close as I ever got to wine). I would always wonder how many it took before the cap was free, kind of like how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop.
Mat Garretson
Paso Robles, CA —  November 7, 2006 9:43am ET
I'm perfectly fine with 'screwcap' as it describes the method for both applying and opening the closure. I'm definately against the term 'Stelvin' as this is the name of only one producer of this closure. Although, admittedly, they were one of the earlier producers...they certainly aren't the only one.
Michael Culley
November 7, 2006 10:08am ET
Call it what you will(though I like the 'under spiral' term)but a bad bottle under a screwtop should be called 'twisted'in place of corked.
Jeb Bradshaw
Ft Worth, TX —  November 11, 2006 1:07am ET
I think I like "cracker-cap" or "cracker-top". It really does sound like a "crack" when you make the intial turn on it, but "crack" is not a real pleasant term to use these days so I sided with "cracker"...not to be confused with us folkes that burn to easily in the sun!

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