Nov 26 2006

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Thanksgiving is finally over and thoughts are focused on Christmas, but one of the most disappointing aspects of this Thanksgiving, besides undercooking the turkey, was discovering that my once favorite wine now has a screw off cap, instead of a cork.

As I was milling around in the local liquor store looking for a good bottle of wine I discovered to my delight a case of one of my favorite wines. I hadn’t been able to find this particular wine for many years in any nearby (within 30 miles) liquor store, and I had settled to satisfying my unsophisticated palate with a mid priced merlot, cabernet or burgundy. As I walked around the store’s display racks and shelves I noticed near my feet a wooden case of wine with a very familiar name, but a different label than I had remembered . I knelt on one knee to pick up a bottle. I felt like I had found an old friend, until I noticed the top of the bottle had a screw off cap instead of a cork. I immediately thought that maybe the winery had been bought out by Gallo?

The only way I can describe the feeling of seeing my favorite wine with a screw off cap is, unexpectedly seeing an old girlfriend that you were once crazy about, and had harbored great memories of for many years,and as you rush up to greet her she smiles at you without any teeth in her mouth.

At first glance I was in disbelief. I thought this couldn’t be the same wine. This was a good old French winery recommended by a friendly liquor store owner I often frequented years ago. After he sold his business and retired the new owners no longer carried the wine, and said it was difficult to get and the price had gone up considerably.

I was disappointed and I went on to find other wines, but none quite satisfied me the way that one had. If I had known it would be hard to find again I would have ordered several cases and stored them, but it still would not have stopped the winery from putting a screw cap on their new bottles. I hadn’t had a bottle of this particular wine for many years. I had actually almost forgotten about it, until I found it a few days ago.

I looked at the bottle with the screw cap on it and brought it to the counter, and I asked the clerk if there was an earlier vintage available that had a cork in it, instead of a screw off cap. She smiled graciously and said “Oh that’s a new wine we have just ordered. I think they only come with caps.” I told her that I used to love the wine but I couldn’t bring myself to buying it now, with a screw off cap. I also told her that it was a 2004 vintage and I hadn’t had that wine for many years, and I was concerned that it may not be the same as I remembered. Even the modest price they were asking could not convince me to buy it. She frowned and said, “Honestly a lot of people feel the same way about the screw off cap, many of the lower priced and mid ranged wines are coming out with screw off caps.” I looked at her puzzled and asked, “Why?” She explained that supposedly caps are better for preserving the wine than corks are. I could not believe that any proud, master wine maker would allow his wine to be sealed with a spin off cap. I couldn’t picture many wines, other than Yago Sangria or Boones Farm Apple wine or a gallon jug of Vino, without a cork in it. These were $2.00 a gallon wines, that everyone got stupid and sick on in high school and college during the late sixties and early seventies.

I was quite disappointed as I reluctantly placed the bottle back in the wooden case. I stared at it for several minutes and tried to convince myself that it might be worth buying just to try it. Maybe, just maybe it might be as good as I remembered? I thought for a few moments and became quite nostalgic over the site of my favorite old wine packaged with a screw off cap. I thought of how many times I had been disappointed believing, that old favorites of anything could create the same pleasure I derived from them when they were new.

I turned away from the wooden case and went to the shelf, which had my new, trusted, favorite wine with a cork in it. I picked up the bottle reassured, walked to the counter and happily paid the clerk. I was confident that my new, favorite, wine had the flavor and aroma, that pleased my palate without risking embarrassment or disappointment brought about from my misplaced faith in an old favorite, that I could no longer trust.


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