Real Corks, Artificial Corks or Screw-tops – What’s Best for Wine?

 In CGT Blog

Corks can be a huge debate in the wine world, with traditionalists insisting natural cork is the only way to close a bottle of wine and modern winemakers open-mindedly exploring alternatives. We’re here to share a little of our knowledge about the different ways to close a bottle of wine so you can stop asking what’s better – wine cork or screw-top?

Before we dive into the details, we want to dispel the myth that real wine corks are always the best and you’ll never get a good bottle of wine that isn’t sealed with a natural cork. It just isn’t true! While some wines are absolutely best with a natural cork, other wines shine when they’re sealed in other ways.

The three types of closures we use at Chateau Grand Traverse are also the three most common corks and alternatives.

Natural Cork

Used for centuries, natural cork expands perfectly to seal the bottle and allows a transfer of gasses that is ideal for wines that require long aging times due to high tannin content, like Cabernet sauvignons. Natural cork is created in nature — it’s the thick spongy bark of cork trees, a type of oak tree. This means cork can have imperfections which lead ineffectively sealed bottles of wine. When this issue taints the flavor of the wine, we say that the bottle is corked. Corked wines often take on flavors of damp cardboard and are very unpleasant to drink.

Chateau Grand Traverse uses natural corks for some of our vintage line and reserve wines, as well as all our wines meant to age for longer periods of time, like many of our red wines.

Synthetic Cork

Synthetic corks are most often made from plastic, but the ones we use are made from GMO-free sugar cane, making them all-natural and compostable! Consumers and wineries like synthetic corks because they allow for the joy of popping a cork while eliminating the corked wine problem. Synthetic corks are perfect for wines with a short aging time since they don’t have enough pores to allow the same gas exchange as natural cork. Some winemakers complain that synthetic corks can impart a chemical flavor to the wine, but with our (ironically) all-natural synthetic corks, this is not a problem.

We use our sugar cane synthetic corks for a wide variety of our wines, as some are intended to be enjoyed soon after bottling, rather than being stored to age for additional years.


When screw-tops for wine bottles first hit the market, they were reserved for low-end wines because most people thought they couldn’t measure up to corks. Thankfully, the wine world is starting to come around because screw-tops are actually an extremely effective closure for wines that don’t require aging, helping to maintain crisp and clean fruit-forward flavors.

Plus, you’ll never have to resort to opening a wine bottle with a shoe because you don’t have a corkscrew!

Chateau Grand Traverse uses screw-tops for our Eclectic line of wines, making them a great option for the boat, beach or for picnics.

Want to learn more? Visit the Chateau Grand Traverse tasting room and taste a variety of wines enclosed all three different ways. Our knowledgeable staff is always happy to answer your wine questions.