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'The Scoop': Sometimes, screw-top and boxed wines are better than the cork

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On this week's episode of "The Scoop with Tracy Briggs," Tracy catches up with wine expert Alex Taylor to see if screw-top wines can be just as good as the corked varieties. Derek Fletcher / The Forum3 / 4
Wine expert Alex Taylor holds up a Dark Horse Wines cork with a horse's head on it. Some wine lovers use decorative corks like this for art projects. Aaron Goddard / The Forum4 / 4

FARGO — It used to be a given: Wine in a screw-top bottle, or heaven forbid in a box, was not to be bothered with. The best wine had to be uncorked like it had been for centuries. But these days, that isn't necessarily the case.

You can enjoy a glass of spectacular wine without touching a corkscrew. In fact, in some circumstances, screw-top or boxed wine is the better choice.

Alex Taylor is a wine lover and has been working at wine tastings for 20 years. She says people do have a preconceived notion about screw-top wines being cheap and not as good as corked bottles.

"It really started back in the 1950s when there was a cork shortage, so they started putting more wines in screw-tops," she says. "It wasn't always the best wines."

Think sweet, fruity wine that came in big jugs and might have been enjoyed by cash-strapped college students. It was hardly meant for those with sophisticated wine palates, but it fit the bill and didn't break the bank.

But Taylor says screw-top bottles actually became the go-to choice for some vineyards as the technology improved.

"Some people believe the screw-top wine can actually preserve the wine better," she says. "Not to mention, it's easier to open and you don't need to mess with corkscrews."

Plus, there is no chance of a cork breaking and little bits of it falling into the glass. Screw-top wine is also a good option for those with limited refrigerator space for leftover wine as the bottle can be stored on its side.

However, corks aren't going anywhere. Some wine lovers say their love of wine includes the ritual of uncorking the bottle and letting the wine breathe.

As winemaker James Foster told NPR, complex wines, especially deep reds, are more likely to develop a smooth, velvety taste under a cork. "Bigger, fuller wines benefit from a little oxygen that the cork naturally allows the wine to intake while it's in the bottle," says Foster.

Taylor says corks are also a good choice for people who like to use their love of wine in their decorating.

"This wine is fun," Taylor says, holding up a bottle of Dark Horse. "When you open it, the cork actually has a horse's head on it."

But what about boxed wine once thought to be a tacky choice? Not the case anymore, says Taylor and many other wine experts. Again, technology gets the credit for creating an environment where wine can be preserved weeks longer.

"There are some really great boxed wines these days," says Taylor. "If you only want a glass of wine a night, a box is the way to go. The box will keep the wine fresh for six weeks in the refrigerator versus just two or three days in the bottle."

In the 21st century, most experts agree wine shouldn't be judged by how it's signed, sealed and delivered cork, screw-top or box. Go to a tasting and decide for yourself.

Tracy Briggs

Tracy Briggs is a former TV anchor/radio host currently working as a features writer and video host for Forum Communications.

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