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Take the cork out of it – but how’s that work?

Oct 15th, 2008 | By | Category: Latest News, News

WINE bottles moving to screw-caps may improve taste and reduce waste – but many young wait staff asked to uncork a bottle these days just do not know how.

When Emma Parsons and Caroline Ginnane took over Cobar in Day’s Bay five years ago, they stocked only wine with corks, and it was eighteen months before a screw-cap bottle joined their wine-list.

They now stock just eight wines with corks – four of which are French – out of 43 bottles.

This means the secondary school and university students Emma and Caroline employ – who have not grown up with corks at home – usually need to be trained in uncorking, and they are not sure what to do if a bottle has been ‘corked’.

“If they [the wait staff] see the bottle of wine has a cork in it, they look quite frightened about it. It’s not a usual occurrence for them,” says Caroline.

So Cobar train their staff in how to recognise spoilage from corkage, as well as uncorking in style.

It’s a trend that tutors on hospitality courses have also noticed.

Shirley Bleach at Whitireia Polytech teaches uncorking, because she thinks there will always be wine with corks, and says students enjoy the classes.

“We have wine bottles we fill with water, we re-cork the bottles and put the cover over it so it’s like a new bottle of wine,” she says.  “Most people don’t know how to do it.”

Cobar owners believe the change to screw-caps has improved wine taste for customers, because the product is more predictable, and reduced the need to return corked bottles to vineyards.

They say with screw-caps, one in 200 bottles will have some degree of oxidisation, whereas with corked bottles, one in five has some degree of spoilage which a winemaker would notice, even if a wine-drinker might not.

Even if the change to screw-caps is a good thing for wine-drinkers, both Emma and Caroline miss corks.

Caroline says uncorking allows wait staff to be involved with their customers without intruding: “If you’ve got a cork it takes longer, you get a bit of extra time with people, you get to have a chat with them, get to know them.”

For Emma, the “nice glugging noises” bottles with corks, with their wider necks, used to make is a loss: “It takes the romance away from a bottle of wine.”

PICTURE 1:Brad Linstrom from the Matterhorn uncorks with style.

PICTURE 2: Cobar, in Day’s Bay, named after the Wellington to Eastborne ferry in 1912.

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is a student journo who loves to write. Her interests, apart from media slavery, include social justice, music, sports and gardening. Preferably a combination of all four. She doesn't know yet what she wants to be when she grows up.
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