Sparkling closures: crown caps provide a new familiarity

When thinking of sparkling wines, many consumers, winemakers and bottling contractors would tend to think they are sealed off with a cork, with an exception made for piccolo-sized bottles. Some wine producers are beginning to seal some of their sparkling wines with crown cork caps, better known as bottle caps and more commonly associated with beers and ciders. Does this move, which aims to engage with a ‘social-drinker’ demographic, have longevity or is it simply a passing fad? Journalist Samuel Squire shined a spotlight on the trend.


Pete’s Pure Wines, on the banks of the Murray River in south-west New South Wales and Oliver’s Taranga in McLaren Vale are two of a roster of wine producers making a move to seal their younger style wines with crown closures.

Wines like frizzante Moscatos and Proseccos are often considered very social wines to be shared and enjoyed the moment they are opened. Oliver’s Taranga winemaker and director Corrina Wright says the decision to use crown closures over corks could help younger sparkling wine styles stand out from other, long-established traditional sparkling wine styles.

According to Wright, the use of crown closures helps the wines stand out in the market and make them more easily identifiable as “something different”.

Wines like Champagne and sparkling cuvées may be the powerhouses of the fizzy wine world but their market share is rapidly being challenged by the likes of Prosecco and Moscato.

“Our Oliver’s Taranga Moscato is slightly sparkling and so, to make it stand out independently to our other sparkling wines, we sealed it with a crown cap,” she said.

“Crown closures make the wine feel more social to crack open than a corked sparkling. The wine is lower in alcohol and is made to be enjoyed at the moment of opening until the bottle runs dry.”

No adverse effect on quality

On the closures, Wright says there is no adverse effect on the overall quality of the Moscato nor does the winemaking process require any alterations in order for it to be crown capped.

She says that the appeal of the closures lies in its simplistic, younger-looking aesthetic and will hopefully break the perception that these caps are meant solely for beer bottles or that they could reduce wine quality.

“People may worry about the quality of the wine if it’s sealed with a bottle cap, but there’s no loss of quality from the closure style,” she said.

“There is a perception that the crown caps are only on beers, but the rules and conventions seem to be on the change.”

Easier to open

Communications coordinator at Pure Wine Co., Rachel Barnett, says the move to switch to capped closures on sparkling wines is also aimed at improving consumer convenience as they are easier to open than corked wines.

Pure Wine Co., which operates the Pete’s Pure label, seals its Moscato and Prosecco wines with crown cork caps which Barnett adds have a great benefit to the immediate life of a sparkling wine.

“Crown cork caps are really convenient for customers. They are perfect for wines that are to be opened and drunk, not to be put back in the fridge for the following day,” Barnett said.

“Crowns keep the wine fresh and they are more cost-effective for wineries to use than corks.”

Barnett says that this style of closure for sparkling wines may well be more convenient for consumers looking to dive into a nice drop, but the fitting seems to add to the aesthetic the company is chasing.

She added that many brands may be starting to notice the benefits this type of sparkling wine closure may bring to both the winery and the consumer.

“We liked the more social feel they give our customers, but [the decision to use crown caps] also suits the look and feel we have for Pete’s Pure,” she said.

“There are more wine brands starting to use crown caps these days, it is somewhat making a resurgence.”

Environmental impact

According to published sales figures, the sparkling wine market in Australia has been growing over for several years.

Matthew Young, category manager for sparkling and Champagne wines at Dan Murphy’s says the retailer is seeing more crown-sealed wines brought in.

Young adds more suppliers may be leaning towards crown caps because they are more economically viable.

“This [shift to crown seals] is driven by what our suppliers prefer to use. For instance, PET NAT and natural sparkling wine producers seem to be particularly big fans of the crown seal,” he said.

“Some local suppliers are moving to bottle caps due to the commercial and environmental benefits. Crown seals are manufactured locally, whereas cork is traditionally imported, so they tend to be a more cost-efficient choice.”

With the Australian sparkling wine market forecast to continue its steady growth, more producers could look to the crown cap as a way of adapting to a consumer trend that may also be on the rise.



This article was originally published in the June 2020 issue of the Australian & New Zealand Grapegrower & Winemaker.
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