At last, a cork that screws in and out of the wine bottle

Metal screw caps have made significant inroads into the wine industry over the last decade or so.

But many wine drinkers continue to turn their nose up at the thought. For them, there is nothing like the centuries-old tradition of the cork stopper. Rightly or wrongly, they associate cork with quality. For some, the ritual of popping it and sniffing the stubby tree-grown thing is an evocation of wine’s earthiness that’s completely lost with twisting off an aluminum bottle top as if from a supersize Coke.

Now, from the world’s largest cork producer and its largest glass container company comes a compromise: A cork, called Helix, that screws in and out of the bottle.  A joint press release from Portuguese cork company Amorim and Perrsyburg, Ohio-based Owens-Illinois Inc., notes:
“The new ‘twist to open’ concept combines an ergonomically-designed stopper made from cork and a glass bottle with an internal thread finish in the neck, creating a high performing and sophisticated wine packaging solution. HELIX combines all the benefits of cork and glass – quality, sustainability and premium image with user-friendly, re-sealable convenience. It can be quickly and easily implemented by wineries with only a minor adjustment to the existing filling lines.”

According to the BBC, the screwy cork will start appearing in the $8-to-$15 class of wine bottles in Europe within two years, and could also land in China, now the world’s fifth largest wine market and one where many consumers prefer cork.

One of the more amazing facts about Helix is that it took four years to develop. It seems that stoppers, like fine wines, aren’t made overnight.