Until the 1980s the cork had been used as the primary method of sealing wine bottles for centuries. Cork, an all-natural type of tree bark, was thought to be the best way to seal glass bottles while letting a small amount of air in to “age” the wine. However, as the worldwide demand for wine increased, the quality of good cork went down. Soon people began to notice that their wine had a bad, smelly sock, taste to it when it was first opened. Researchers discovered that something called TCA contamination or, “cork taint”, was to blame. In addition to the risk of wine being ruined by bad cork, its cost was much higher than the new method appearing: the screw cap. Interestingly, both the screw cap bottle and boxed wine share a similar background and have grown up in a similar way.
A Common Birthplace
Although it was partially designed in France, the screw cap was first widely adopted for sealing wine bottles in the Australian market. It had some use in the 1980s, but really gained traction and soared to popularity in the 1990s. Winemakers realized that the synthetic screw on cap was not only cheaper to manufacture than a traditional cork, but also had less risk of damaging the wine inside. The screw cap is now the most used sealing method in the Australian and New Zealand market by far. Interestingly, boxed wine was originally invented in Australia as well, though earlier in the year 1935. Over the course of nearly 40 years the design was refined until it became what we know as the “bag in a box” system that most boxed wines come in today. The common birthplace of both of these revolutionary techniques for packaging wine is an interesting phenomenon for an industry primarily dominated by countries in Europe and more recently, California.
Much like boxed wine’s false but well-known stigma for being poor-quality, the screw cap bottle was looked down on when it was first used for winemaking. Wine, unlike many things, has a very long history that dates back hundreds and hundreds of years. Its rich heritage has helped to refine it over the ages, but unlike the fast-moving world we live in today, not much about wine changed from the 1400s to the 1900s. Then, with the invention of the screw cap bottle and boxed wine, the winemaking industry was changed in revolutionary new ways. At first, people protested the changing of tradition. However, soon they began to realize the benefits of using new methods to package wine. They lower costs, save the environment, and allow for winemakers to invest more in the product rather than the packaging. As these beliefs spread for the screw cap bottle, people slowly began to accept the change. It is now almost completely accepted as a good way to seal wine. The same goes for boxed wine. Although people were skeptical at first, a shift is being seen in wine culture. Boxed wine is now becoming acceptable and loved just like its bottled counterparts.
New Perspectives On Old Friends
Just as a wine’s flavor changes with age, so can our perspectives. If the growth of screw caps on wine and boxed wine teaches us anything, it is this. Maybe opening up our view on something to accommodate a new, better change isn’t so bad. It might just make a positive impact for everyone.