Should the capsule on top of a wine bottle spin or not?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

What does it mean if the hood, or capsule, on a bottle of wine is fixed in place or spins? Does either indicate something about the quality of the wine?

—Lasi, Romania

Dear Lasi,

There is some folklore out there in the wine world about what it means if the capsule, also known as a hood or sleeve, that covers the top of a bottle of wine is fixed in place or not. The truth is that some capsules spin and some do not, and neither scenario indicates anything certain about the quality of the wine in the bottle.

One of the ways rumors like these got started is that if a wine gets too hot or a cork is faulty, the bottle might leak; if the wine leaks into the capsule and then later dries, that seepage might create a sticky adhesive that “glues” the capsule in place. There are a lot of “ifs” and “mights” in that logic, and when you consider that a little bit of seeping wine is no guarantee that a wine is damaged and that some producers apply the capsules so tightly that they won’t budge to begin with, there’s just no merit to the idea that wine quality can be linked in any way to whether or not the capsule spins.

Some wine bottles have loose capsules that are easy to pull off, which is really convenient if you don’t like trying to cut through the foil before you open the bottle, and some wine bottles have really tightly applied capsules that don’t move at all. The only way to know whether or not the wine inside the bottle is good is to open it.

—Dr. Vinny

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