March 1, 2024
News Opinion

WINE O’CLOCK: A good screw to pop your cork

I AM not certain what constitutes a callow youth but I’m pretty sure I was one, way back in the day, when I got a summer job in what passed for a posh restaurant in the Belfast of the late 1960s.

I served a very glamorous woman, dining with equally glamorous friends, but told her I would have to call another waiter to bring the wine, joking that I might not be able to open the bottle.

“Yes, young man,” she said. “It would take a better screw than yours to pop my cork.”

Scarlet, I was.

Her riposte will be puzzling a few years from now, for the cork industry is on its last legs and bottles with a cork will soon be as rare as home-team hat-tricks at Old Trafford.

A lot of Spanish and Portuguese wines still come with a cork but that’s because cork is grown in those countries and they have an industry to protect.

The French, who are snobbish about these things, also still sell a lot of bottles with corks, particularly for their dearer wines. But that is a matter of style, not substance.

Cork is a natural product and cork forests are good for the environment. But pulling corks is a pain and they are not one whit better for wine than a screw top.

More and more French wine now comes in screw top bottles. Dunnes stock two good examples.

Les Courtelles Picpoul de Pinet (€11) is a typically fruity Picpoul from the Languedoc; a lovely accompaniment for platters of charcuterie with olives and sun dried tomatoes.

Diane De Poitiers 2018 Haut Poitou Sauvignon (€11) is a little more dry, slightly salty and great with fish, especially shellfish.

Screw tops are even starting to make inroads into Spanish and Portuguese products.

Marques de Riscal Sauvignon Blanc (€14.99, The Wine Centre, Kilkenny) is a very nice white from the Rueda region of Spain. Similar to the Haut Poitou but a little crisper.

Casa Ferreirinha Planalto (€15.99, The Wine Centre) is an unusual dry white from the Douro region of Portugal. Several grapes are blended to make this full-bodied, fragrant wine.




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