Joel Vincent

Technology. Wine. Family. (maybe not in that order)

Screw tops? Screw that!

In a previous article posted to Vivi’s, we talked about the age-old debate of screw-tops versus corks. The idea being that screw caps can actually help create a little more predictability in wines in the way that they have more control over the oxygen let into the bottle. This helps wine producers reduce loss and many are considering the change. The problem is a common marketing phenomenon that seems to baffle many in the wine world – perception is reality. And when you’re dealing in a luxury product world like high-end wines there is certain “snobbery” that prevents screw caps from gaining too much prominence (even in wine under $20). This is because the perception is that the screw cap is for 40oz OE Malt Liquor, not wine.

Well a recent study conducted by Oregon State University demonstrated this “perception is reality” marketing phenomenon first hand. In a blind taste test conducted by researchers at Oregon State University’s Food Innovation Center in Portland, wine drinkers couldn’t tell the difference in the taste of the same wine, whether bottled with natural cork, synthetic cork or screw-top stoppers. Yet a second study, by the same researcher, found that wine consumers who are confronted with a choice of stoppers are much less likely to purchase “screw-top” wine, considering it of inferior quality.

“Consumers simply couldn’t tell the difference between identical wines with each of the three different closures,” said Emily M. Jorgensen, an OSU graduate student working with the university’s Food Innovation Center in Portland.

There you have it. Concrete evidence.

This is even more interesting if you consider the following thought – what about price? This is the principle that Vivi’s operates under – there are world class wines at prices that are not considered “world class”. The wine industry early on had a supply/demand situation that caused prices to go higher and higher (alot of demand, not much supply). So the best wines in short supply were highly sought after. Particularly some CA wines experienced this type price inflation. High price started to become an indicator of quality. But at some point in the last few years it seems that many wines from CA started to take advantage of that and charge alot for mediocre wines creating the illusion of “high quality”. This creates the opportunity for the devoted “wine hunters” to find some real “values”, i.e. find wines that are price right not just priced high.

That should be every wine enthusiasts’ ultimate goal is to find these wines. Hopefully we can help Vivi’s wine community use this “perception is reality” rule to find the wines that many people write off because the price is simply too low. This is really the ultimate way to Enjoy the Wine Life.

Read the OSU release

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