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

Turn your nose up at metal screw caps? Can never find your cork screw? Help is on the way!

Screw this. Some wine fans might welcome the Helix screw cork. Staunch traditionalists might want nothing to do with it.

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Metal screw caps have made significant inroads into the wine industry over the last decade or so as a convenient alternative to the often missing - or to some, difficult to operate - corkscrew.

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 per bottle class of wines in Europe within two years. It 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 the Amorim/Owens-Illinois team four years to develop. It seems that stoppers, like fine wines, aren't made overnight.

Photo from Owens-Illinois

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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