Alternative wine bottle closures becoming more acceptable.

Tuesday, 30 November, 2004
Richard Halstead
Pulling a natural cork out of a wine bottle may still be the preferred choice for the majority of Britain’s wine drinkers, but alternative ways of sealing wine are increasingly acceptable to the public, according to the a recent study conducted by Wine Intelligence.
News of the increasing acceptance of such alternatives as screw-caps and synthetic corks is contained in the report Closures: The Consumer View 2004-05, published today by Wine Intelligence, a strategic advice company serving the global wine industry. The report is based on its second annual independent survey of consumer attitudes to wine bottle closures, conducted via a 1,018-respondent online survey in August and September 2004. While 97% of consumers still find natural cork acceptable (down from 99% in 2003), the big changes from last year’s survey occur among attitudes towards alternative closures. Rejectors of screw-caps have fallen to 36% of consumers, down from 6 in ten last year, while 18% of consumers now say they like buying wine with screw-caps compared with just 7% in 2003. There is a similar boost for synthetic (or plastic) corks. Some 29% of consumers say they now like buying wine with synthetic corks (up from 17% last year) and just 10% now say they don’t like buying wine with these types of closure. Wine consumers over the age of 45 still appear to be more likely to support alternative closures than younger consumers, while men in general appear to be more supportive of natural cork. The findings come amid a period of unprecedented change in the way wine bottles are sealed. After centuries of dominance, the cork industry is under pressure from a new wave of alternative wine bottle closures made from plastic, metal, and even glass. Some wine producers have turned to these new closures as a way of reducing the incidence of ‘tainted’ wine, which can be caused by either oxidation (air leaking into a bottle via the cork) or cork ‘taint’ (where a chemical within the cork reacts with the wine to produce a musty smell). Commenting on the report’s publication, Richard Halstead, Managing Director of Wine Intelligence, said: “This year’s survey clearly demonstrates that seismic shifts are occurring in consumer perceptions of what makes an appropriate wine bottle closure. There’s no doubt that natural cork is still the closure of choice, but consumers now accept that there are other ways of sealing wine. We’re not about to see the death of the ritual of uncorking a bottle of wine, but there’s no doubt that screw-caps have established critical mass in the UK market.” About the report Closures: The Consumer View 2004-05 is published today by Wine Intelligence, price £375. The 48-page report contains full findings from the largest annual independent survey of consumer attitudes to wine bottle closures. Consumer attitudes are analysed by demographics, behaviour and attitude to produce preferences by age, gender, socio-economic group, consumption patterns and involvement with wine. There is also a new section this year devoted to the attitudes to closures in the On-trade, based on research conducted jointly with the Young’s Pub Group. The report is available to purchase online at and comes in Adobe Acrobat® pdf format. About Wine Intelligence Wine Intelligence is a research-led strategy consultancy specialising in the wine industry. It provides expert advice and insights to more than 50 clients worldwide. The company also publishes its own research on important industry topics and runs a press analysis service. For more information visit Sample of data (2003 numbers in parentheses) “What is your view about buying wine with the following types of closure?” Don’t like Neutral Like Screw-cap 36% (59%) 46% (34%) 18% (7%) Synthetic cork 10% (12%) 62% (71%) 29% (17%) Natural cork 3%(1%) 42% (44%) 55% (55%) “Has your view of buying wine with the following types of closures changed over time?” (2003 numbers in brackets) Worse Neutral Better Screw-cap 10% (6%) 53% (65%) 37% (30%) Synthetic cork 8% (5%) 67% (59%) 25% (36%) Natural cork 10%(4%) 84% (90%) 6% (6%) Other data and illustrations are available on request. For more information, please call: Richard Halstead, Managing Director, Wine Intelligence +44 208 785 5512 +44 7768 666 759