Thursday, 21 December 2023 15:25

Bob's Blog: Going topless

Written by  Bob Campbell MW

OPINION: A year or so ago I congratulated Waiheke wine producer Destiny Bay for removing capsules from their bottles.

“Going topless”, as Destiny Bay owner and winemaker Sean Spratt explained, involved a certain amount of risk.

Destiny Bay produces some of this country’s most expensive wines and their customers are largely conservative wine drinkers. Would the loss of a capsule represent a loss in perceived value?

“We were a little bit on the leading edge,” says Sean. “People are still mystified about the purpose of capsules, which was to stop the corks being eaten by rats, cockroaches and weevils during long-term storage. That is simply not a problem today.”

Capsules were originally made of lead but these were banned to eliminate the risk of lead-oxide poisoning. Lead capsules were replaced by tin and plastic capsules which are expensive and pose environmental risk.

“We needed to educate the members of our Patron’s Club. Most came back with comments like ‘that’s a bold move; well done’, but we did get some push-back from a few of our members. Fortunately, we carried stocks of capsules and were able to apply them for customers who insisted on a ‘fully dressed’ wine.”

The long-term solution involves teaching wine drinkers that topless is fully dressed, he says. “Everywhere I travel in the world I see an increasing number of wines going topless. Once you understand the history of wine capsules and the negative benefits it is hard to justify applying them, so why bother?”

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