Skip to main content
Central Coast Wine Insider Blog

Central Coast Wine Insider Blog

To Cork or not to Cork?


To Cork or Not to Cork…..

That is the Question!

The lively debate of cork vs. synthetic vs. screw top closures is all around us! Vintners, Distributors, Farmers, Sommeliers, Consumers….everyone seems to have an opinion on the subject, and the reasons behind them are as varied as my wine group’s taste in Pinot Noirs.  Here’s a quick rundown of the merits and drawbacks of different wine closures:

Corktree   Wine Corks: Tradition and Ritual

Pros: Cork has a long history; it has been used as the sealing method of choice in winemaking for over 400 years. Cork is a renewable resource (the trees are not killed when the bark is stripped to make cork). They’ are natural   and readily biodegradable.  Cork production and use supports an entire industry of corkscrews and other cork-removal products, not to mention those who farm the trees and make the actual corks. Plus you have the style factor – proper wine service in a restaurant setting is a delightful experience, which may lose some of its magic with a screw cap.

Cons: Wine Corks go bad, more often than you may believe. Estimates vary depending on which figures you credit, but the fact is that as little as 1% or as much as 20% of all wine sold is ““corked”,” which is to say, damaged by a problematic cork. Wine corks can be difficult to remove, and sometimes break off into the bottle. Also, cork is not cheap. You’re paying upwards of $1 per bottle for that cork.

Synthetic: The New Wine Corksynthetic cork

Pros: Synthetics are immune to cork taint, so wine is much less likely to spoil. Depending on the material used, some synthetics are recyclable. The same cork-removal equipment can be used (though personal experience tells me that synthetic closures can be stubborn to remove).

Cons: If not recycled, plastic corks also pose a more direct impact on the environment. The material may not retain its elasticity well over time, making it unsuitable for wines meant to age for an extended time.


Screw Caps: Quick and Dirty

screw capPros: Screw caps, like synthetic closures, avoid problems of cork taint. They are less expensive than natural cork or synthetic closures, and they can be removed without any special equipment.

Cons: As with synthetics, screw caps imply environmental issues associated with the loss of cork farming as well as disposal (not all are recyclable). They are also not built for long aging wines.  An important component of proper wine service includes the removal of the foil and cork, so your tableside show may seem a bit less grand without it.


So, we’ve touched a bit on the larger points of debate (by no means all of the issues involved).

What are your thoughts? Will that incredible Edna Valley Chardonnay lose some of its it’s luster with a synthetic closure? Is a natural cork a deal breaker for your Paso Robles Zinfandel? Or do you twist off the cap of your new vintage Rosé and say ‘”screw it!”?




All the Right Elements : Tooth & Nail Winery


Tooth & Nail wines popped up on my radar a few years ago.  Their creative naming and sure handed winemaking have put them on many local shelves and wine list to be sure.

For me, it was all about the labels. Created from hand carved wood blocks, they are creative, classy, whimsical ,and  just plain fun to look at. My husband and I quickly began referring to the wines by the art on the bottles – scenes including all the major elements : Air, Fire, Earth, Water…and Dragon? I know now that its their yummy Pinot Gris, but I will always love a good glass of ‘Dragon’.force-of-nature-pinot-gris__82305_1410645738_1280_1280

Last Friday a friend and I were looking with something new and fun to do with our Friday evening when I remembered hearing about a new event at Tooth & Nail Winery. A quick google and a phone call later and we were on our way to check it out.

Newly ensconced in their imposing castle off 46 West (the barely recognizable former home of Eagle Castle Winery), Tooth & Nail is doing it right. The décor has been re-designed with a streamlined look that is both modern and a bit sumptuous. Tufted leather sofas and gilt mirrors surround a huge fireplace. Think ‘Game of Thrones’ without all the murder.


The outside space has been reworked with a mind to events and music. On Friday we were treated to a show by local band Proxima Parada. Give me a California soul band in mint green skinny jeans and I’m a happy girl.


Food is being provided by Spencer Johnston’s Danior Kitchen. As a food/wine pairing geek, I was pleased to observe the thought and consideration that went into our provisions. I know Spencer sources everything locally, and the effort shows. The flavors were complimentary to a variety of the wines offered, so we weren’t locked into one specific pairing. Our favorites included the Burger, seasonal salad (white peaches were PERFECT), and the truffle fries.

Currently Tooth & Nail is offering Food on Friday evenings 5p-8p with live music, Saturday Lunch 12p-4p, and Sunday Brunch and Lunch 10a-4p. Call or check website to confirm Tooth & Nail Winery .


We certainly lucked out with our Wine Steward Dakota. Not only knowledgeable and friendly, she was actually someone with opinions, which I love. I was able to let go of my list and be guided through wines that she obviously cared about. A few favorites include: Amor Fati Grenache 2011, Force of Nature Tempranillo 2013, Tooth & Nail ‘The Fiend’ 2012 (a T&N1Malbec/Syrah blend) and the newly released dessert Viognier Demi-Lune 2013. The tasting room is open 10-6 Weds through Monday (closed Tuesday).

Do yourself a favor and plan a visit today to check out all the wonderful things this Winery has to offer. Call breakaway-tours today to schedule your experience. And don’t forget to raise a glass of ‘Dragon’ to the Central Coast and all it has to offer!