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Dear Dr. Vinny,
Is it true screwcaps for wine originated in Australia?
—Walt, Astoria, N.Y.
In 1964, the then-director of Australia’s Yalumba winery approached a French company, Le Bouchage Mechanique, about creating a screwcap sealing system for their wines, but the first Stelvin cap was trialed by a Swiss wine in 1972. In 1973, a group of Australian wineries including Yalumba, Penfolds and Tahbilk, started commercially releasing wines under the twist-off.
Winemakers liked it, but it was stigmatized as a closure for lower-quality wines, and it was mostly phased out in the 1980s. Even Yalumba abandoned the closure until 2000.
Screwcaps started gaining momentum again in the 1990s, when “cork taint” started getting a lot of attention. Screwcaps ensure consistent quality and eliminate the possible cork contamination of TCA, which can make wine smell dank and musty.
Australia and New Zealand in particular were early adopters of the new closure technology, and these days about 75 percent of the wines we see from those two countries are topped with a screwcap.