I’m unexpectedly captivated by the oddest things.
We we had the pleasure to dine recently at Vini da Gigio, and to accompany dinner, co-owner Paolo brought us a Blauburgunder Pinot Nero (that’s what Blauburgunder means in German, I’m told). He didn’t open it with his usual panache, i.e., with his preferred cavatappi, though. He couldn’t, because the stopper was made of glass.
From producer to consumer, I think I can speak for most of us when I say that the material we prefer to keep the wine inside the bottle until we’re ready to drink it is sughero: cork. But from what I hear, there are lots of problems associated with its use: it’s expensive, first of all; and becoming harder and harder to obtain. Then, a certain percentage of every vintage is simply lost due to problems with corks — for whatever reason — simply not doing their corking job. (Sa da tappo is what they call it when the wine and the cork have begun to become one. Not a quality you look for in wine, certainly.) I’ve even heard it said more than once that the ideal closure for a wine bottle is the same one that is used for a water bottle. Oh, say it isn’t so…
That night, though, I was introduced instead to one of the alternatives being proposed, at least by this SÃ¼dtirol winery: an elegant glass stopper, with an acrylic band that fits at the top of the neck, and that comes in a variety of sizes to accommodate all the various bottle openings. The stopper, once in place, is sealed with the traditional plastic or aluminum covering when it goes to retail, and so doesn’t appear much differently from a corked bottle. In the end, I was charmed (as you’ve probably noticed), as I kept the bottle, and the glass stopper, which I pulled apart, to photograph and throw up here. What does this have to do with Venice? Not much.
Maybe you’ve seen some of these by now, but I hadn’t; and I’m not sure how much they’re in use, or how common they’re likely to become. As a purely practical matter, they seem like a workable solution: inexpensive, effective, not appalling in presentation. If these would work for everyday wines, they could save the cork for the bigger, more important ones, the reserves, and so on.
Of course I’d miss the cork, and the corkscrew, and the ritual…and the satisfying pomp the cork sounds when it at last releases the wine. But we all have to get practical about things like these at some point, yes?
Well we do, don’t we?