After a few hundred thousand years, homo erectus got this great idea: use those freed-up hands to make tools. From the beginning of time, tools have been part of man’s DNA. This is why, today, all men on their birthdays ask for a set of socket wrenches.
Forty thousand years ago, having evolved into homo sapiens, man commenced creating cave painting art, took a stab at spirituality and developed more sophisticated tools.
But it was not until the 1950s that man employed his hands and his increasingly functional brain to develop the ultimate expression of technical genius: the screw top for wine.
And even then, it was decades before this brilliant advance was accepted by stuffy wine drinkers who associated screw tops with Thunderbird and jugs of Carlo Rossi. They stuck with their corks even though screw tops run circles around corks when it comes to sealing the bottle and keeping out the oxygen that is the enemy of sprightly whites that need to stay crisp and stately reds that should not taste like Listerine.
The diehards argue that their wines, especially their reds, don’t age properly under a screw top. They even say a teeny bit of oxygen is good for their bigger, fuller wines because it smoothes out the tannins.
This is pure sophistry. What the traditionalists are defending is the folderol of the ceremonial uncorking of the bottle, a tableside ritual of long standing. And here they have a point. When it comes to the sommelier’s presentation of the bottle, a screw top is to a cork what a clip on necktie is to a silk cravat.
But our bottle of Murphy-Goode 2013 Chardonnay from Santa Rosa (Global Beverage Warehouse, on sale at $11.99) with fresh accents of apple and pear and a highly convenient screw top, delighted our New Year’s guests. No one objected to the lack of a cork, which indicates the growing acceptance of the screw cap. Or it might indicate that we opened it out of the company’s sight in the kitchen and brought it into the dining room topless. The Chardonnay, that is.