Alcoa fills gap between cork and synthetic closures

Related tags Wine

Alcoa Closure Systems International has begun commercial production
of Vino-Lok, its 'glass on glass' closure system for wine bottles
that it developed as an alternative to corks and synthetic

The company believes that the concept promises not only to solve the problem of 'cork taint' that plagues the wine industry, but also to address current ambivalence towards synthetic closures.

"The Vino-Lok closure system fills a need in the wine industry, which has sought alternatives to natural cork that meets both the quality and aesthetic demands of connoisseurs,"​ said Siegfried Landskrone, general manager, Alcoa Metal Closures, Europe.

"We have more than 100 wineries in Europe purchasing the Vino-Lok stopper for their premier wines, and we have several commitments from winemakers in Australia and South Africa."

The Vino-Lok closure looks like a decorative decanter stopper, and it is recyclable. Made with rubberised O-rings, the glass stopper provides a sterile seal, preventing contamination or oxidation. An aluminium cap over the bottle ensures mechanical protection and tamper evidence.

Scientists from the Geisenheim Institute for Applied Enological Sciences and the Oppenheim/Rheinhessen State Teaching and Testing Institute indicated that Alcoa CSI's Vino-Lok closure system meets parameters for technical as well as taste performance compared to traditional wine closures.

It is this that makes Alcoa confident that its new device can overcome cork taint. The number of wine bottles affected by cork taint is difficult to assess, with figures put at anywhere between 1 per cent (a figure cited by the cork industry) and 15 per cent (a more anecdotal figure based on winemakers' own perceptions), but no matter how high the exact figure is, the problem is one which plagues wine marketers the world over.

The problem of wine taint has been tackled in many ways, the most obvious and widespread of which is the use of screw caps or synthetic stoppers. But while this is one way of significantly reducing the problem, consumer acceptance of such closures remains mixed.

Wine taint is caused by TCA - 2,4,6-trichloroanisole- the naturally occurring compound that is responsible for the mouldy, musty taste and odour of corked wine.

Some countries appear to have less of a hang-up about using new synthetic closures. Many New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs now came with screw caps, and are seen as fitting the 'fresh' image of the wines themselves, less staid than their European equivalents. But it appears that most European consumers still prefer their wine with a cork.

Alcoa​ believes that the Vino-Lok can find the middle ground between cork and synthetic stoppers. The concept has already won a Worldstar Award for Packaging Excellence, an award sponsored by the World Packaging Organisation.

Initially, Alcoa will supply the new glass closures from its Worms, Germany, facility to several wineries in Europe that provide wines to Lufthansa, one of the world's leading airlines. Lufthansa plans to offer its passengers a line of premium wines that use the glass stopper early next year.

The Vino-Lok Selection with a glass stopper is the first product in a portfolio of wine closures that Alcoa CSI is currently developing as an alternative to traditional wine stoppers.

Related topics Processing & packaging

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