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Cork vs. screw cap: which wine tastes better?

As countless servers and bartenders will tell you, the invention of the screw cap on wine bottles is one of the slickest new things to happen in the industry. No more are waiters struggling with stubborn corks, accidentally breaking the cork in half with a small part still stuck in the bottle, or even worse, finding pieces of cork floating in a guest’s newly poured glass. The screw cap is an easy twist off alternative and more and more bottles are making the switch.

The question is, especially for the hardened sommeliers and winos, does the screw cap affect taste or the quality of the wine?

But now, science is stepping in to settle the debate. Oxford University scientists are conducting an experiment that will use brain scans of individuals and record their reactions to different wines both with cork and screw cap seals.

Research has shown that the screw cap isn’t just a convenient trend for simplifying the steps to the get the wine from bottle to glass. Wines with screw caps also appear to age just as well as their corked counterparts.

Man people remain unconvinced though, thinking the cork should reign supreme in all things wine related. But now, the new study aims to determine once and for all if the cork is all it’s cracked up to be.

One of the scientists conducting the study is Professor Charles Spence, head of experimental psychology at the Crossmodal Research Laboratory in Oxford. The Crossmodal Research Lab is an innovative endeavour meant to better understand “integration of information across the various different sensory modalities.”

Spence and his team aren’t just looking at taste receptors to the wine, but also the sound, the feel, the smell, and their interconnectivity in response to the brain’s pleasure centers. According to Spence, “Our brains have a powerful hold over our taste buds, and it will be interesting to see the effects the multi-sensory aspects of wine drinking have on our perception of taste.”

Time will tell if their findings point to the cork or screw cap being the better seal for wine. The convenience of the screw cap makes it a hard act to follow, but traditionalists are happy to have science weigh on this debate.

By Kay Vandette, Staff Writer

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