In the ever going battle between screw cap supporters and cork fans I understand the position of the former: being free from the worry of cork taint and having a more consistent product is a point that makes a lot of sense.
Then we could be here all the day discussing how much different closures influence the flavor of the wine, in fact there is a whole book by George M. Taber devoted to this topic. However this is beyond the scope of this post.
What I do not understand though, is the contempt some producers have towards consumers preferring cork. There are people who do not like to “screw their caps”, who prefer to open their bottles by popping out the cork. That may be for tradition or for aesthetic pleasure, but screw cap die hard fans often see them as somewhat “ignorant” consumers that should be “educated”.
Having a cork thus becomes a “marketing frill” and people choosing a bottle with cork are frowned upon and considered to be “easily influenced by factors unrelated with wine quality”.
I embrace this criticism: my idea is that drinking wine is not just about the wine. If wine quality was all that matter in a bottle, we would no care about a nice label, we would not care about geographic appellations, we would not be listening to winemakers’ stories. We would just drink, perhaps blending here and there, and be satisfied as long as our taste buds are pleased.
However even screw cap supporters actually DO care about factors unrelated with wine quality. Denying this would be naive. Wine is “soaked” in marketing: wine sells better when you tell a good story, when you present a nice bottle, when you take the drinker on a mental trip to places that he will never really see and maybe are not even as he imagines. All aspects unrelated with what is the “material” taste of the liquid in the bottle.
Wine is also about the experience and some people like to include cork as a part of it. It is unfair to dismiss it as something “just for the show”. Sure it is for the show, but so are labels or well polished producers’ websites. Some wines are so expensive that no quality can possibly justify their price and yet people keep buying them, because of the experience.
So why should cork fans be frowned upon? We are all influenced by marketing in some way or another. A consumer choosing a bottle closed with cork (being it natural, synthetic or technical) because it “looks good” is making a legitimate decision, evaluating the factors that he deems important to his ultimate goal, that is having an enjoyable experience.
The relative importance of factors may vary, but ultimately we all do the same when we buy wine.