Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Drink: Those People Who Invested in a Hydraulic Corkscrew Must Be Gutted

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Drink: Those People Who Invested in a Hydraulic Corkscrew Must Be Gutted

Article excerpt

I don't know where you stand on the issue of screw-top wine bottles but, to my mind, this development is in the same category as the disbandment of the Black Watch, the replacement of the school skirt with trousers, and the introduction of ID cards--all measures that have been proposed as modernisation in our best interests, but which still make our hearts sink. The truth is that screw tops are scientifically proven to be better. Yet despite this, I am depressed at the prospect of my favourite Burgundy featuring a metal cap instead of a cork. God knows how all those people feel who invested a hundred quid in a hydraulic corkscrew in a velvet-lined box. They must be gutted.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

My objection to the screw top is not just to do with the ritual of opening the wine (although there is something particularly sexy about a French waiter wielding a waiter's friend). What I regret is the attempt to improve on something that works on so many levels besides the purely functional. Apart from the aesthetic appeal of a cork--especially half-jammed into a bottle that's been opened--there is the pleasure of extracting it, the satisfying thwock as it emerges, and the sense of having opened something that cannot be resealed and therefore must be drunk down to the last drop. I pity the poor students who will never know the joy of getting into a bottle, when half-cut, using the handle of a knife and brute force, and all those who will never have the heart-in-mouth "I think it's corked" exchange with an intimidating wine waiter. …

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