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Ask Dr. Vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

I have a question about the advent of screw caps in wine. In college I had a friend that was allergic to aluminum and if he had one can of any drink from an aluminum can, his face would swell up because of how much aluminum was in the fluid. I relate the story because I don’t think people are aware of how a liquid absorbs the elements of its container, nor how that affects the taste. What about wines under screw cap?

Jim H., Pittsburgh, Pa.

Dear Jim,

Even though screw caps are made of aluminum, wines bottled under screw caps aren’t exposed to it, so aluminum allergies shouldn’t be a concern. If you look under the top of a twist-off, you’ll see a liner, typically a polymer one that meets food-safety guidelines (and is in fact the same stuff that surrounds a lot of the food that we eat). Wine is exposed to the glass of the bottle and this food-safe polymer lining—very different than beer sitting in a can made entirely of aluminum. I checked with Stelvin, the major producer of these closures, and they told me there haven’t been any health or allergy concerns with screw caps, in addition to pointing out that most bottles of spirits and liquor have been bottled under screw caps for more than 40 years.

—Dr. Vinny

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