I was on the Canal du Nivernais in France this summer. A bottle of rosé was brought to the afterdeck for sunset drinks. No surprise about that. But instead of the usual de-corking ritual, the owner popped the seal off by hand and thumb. This was no ordinary cork or screw cap. This was a glass stopper.
Since early 2000, it seems, these stoppers have been gaining favour. Made by Czech glass company Vinolok, they are technically known as glass-on-glass closure. In fact, the seal is formed by a circular polymer disk that is taste-neutral and forms an airtight seal, preserving the original aromas of the wine and removing the risk of ‘cork taint’ oxidisation.
This is broadly the same benefit that is argued in favour of the screw top, but the glass looks classy and can be coloured to reflect the bottle label or the wine. The stopper is usefully recyclable to close any bottle that is half used or for secondary use, for example as a water decanter.
Initially adopted for rosé wines from the Languedoc region, where it is said to be ‘trending’, they are now in use for reds, German Rieslings, Napa Valley USA wines, in Australia and here in the UK for spirits like Adnams Longshore Vodka and Silent Pool boutique gin distilled in the Surrey Hills near Guildford.
The rosé we tasted on the canal trip was Gerard Bertrand Cote des Roses, a good pale colour, light and fresh, made from Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah grapes. Majestic, 13 per cent abv, £12.99.
In Morrisons I found Calvet Rosé Cap d’Agde Côtes de Thau in a very fancy bottle with a glass top, 12 per cent, £8.
We tasted La Terrasse Rosé, 13 per cent, £10 at Sainsbury’s, with neighbours. It was voted a great success for the pale colour but quite full bodied wine and for the elegance of the bottle, which one friend retained with its glass stopper for re-use.
There are and will be more glass stopper offerings to come. Try one when you see one; I am sure you will not be disappointed by the wine inside.
Meantime do not miss the usual autumn promotions for Beaujolais Nouveau. November 14 is the official day.
Focus on Japan
Next year’s Olympics (24 July – 9 August) will bring further focus on Japanese drinks. But for now we can start by checking out Asahi beer, the market leader in Japan, ahead of Kirin and Sapporo.
Japanese beers are generally lager style and made from malted rice rather than barley. Asahi Extra Dry is exactly that. It pours with a course head which quickly subsides, leaving a gently sparkling bright amber colour. It looks quite flat, but drinks with a clean bitter hops taste that goes well with Japanese-style hors d’oeuvres. At Waitrose, £2 for a sizeable 620ml bottle or £5 for a 4 x 330ml pack.
The Asahi Brewery already has a strong presence in the UK beer market. They own Italian Peroni and the UK’s Meantime craft brewery in Greenwich and, earlier this year, quietly and almost unnoticed, took over the well-loved family brewery Fullers of Chiswick, famous for London Pride bitter. Who is next I wonder?