In a move that will at once dwarf the controversy over the use of screw caps within the wine world and usher the industry into an era of taking itself far less seriously, Moet Hennessey has announced that its newest Champagne will be sealed with a beer-bottle style cap rather than a conventional cork. The Champagne, called Green Point Z*D will be released in Britain in March of 2005.
Naturally the traditionalists are appalled and the news is creating a controversy that is rapidly expanding through the blogosphere. Opponents are adamant that the introduction of the cap will remove the romance associated with popping the cork for a new bottle of Champagne. However, Moet is not only resisting this criticism, but they are also arguing that the number of producers likely to fall in suit with them will be considerable. They have positioned that the benefits are threefold: The move will eliminate the problem of cork-taint (the fungal taste that can seep into a bottle of wine from a bad cork), it’s cheaper, and hey – it’s quite a bit safer than a cork flying across the room.
Some could also tack on that it’s an opportunity for the industry to relax a little bit, to take itself less seriously and introduce some new styles and personalities into every element of the wine making process – including the choice of corks. Conventional corks will always be used by some producers, so it’s not a matter of losing the tradition, it’s simply a matter looking at what there is to gain or lose from change. If the ancient Greeks hadn’t been willing to make some changes from the way the Egyptians were growing wine, vines would still be wrapped around trees.
Personally, I’ll always opt for the romance of the cork for my hot Friday night date, but an industry that has room for both the traditionalists and the risk-taking fringe will always be more fun and more forward moving than one that doesn’t.
I think the wine drinking public all over the world has proven that it’s ready for the latter.