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New seal to reduce risk of tampering

Helen Coburn examines precautions to prevent people opening screw cap bottles in shops

Bet you hadn’t thought of the security problems surrounding screw capped wines? Well just reflect: which is easier to open – a cork or a screw cap?

Clearly, as screw cap closures become widespread, shops are going to have to take reasonable precautions against individuals who may open a bottle and take a swig or, worse, put something into a bottle that shouldn’t be there. There is also concern that unscrupulous bar or restaurant staff could refill empty bottles of premium wine with inferior products and sell them as the good stuff. Screw caps have also raised questions among fine wine investors, especially those who collect long lived sweet wines and ice wines which are increasingly being sealed under stelvin and vinolok closures, not just in Australia and New Zealand but also by old world producers such as Austria.

A company called Guala Closures has just put on sale a tamper proof stelvin, which it feels will resolve these issues.  At first sight, the new closure looks like any other stelvin but when it’s opened, a red ring appears at the top of the lower half of the closure. When you close the wine again, the ring stays visible. Eventually, Guala hope retailers and customers will insist that the wine they buy has a closure like this. It also allows restaurant customers to have wines opened in front of them to ensure that the ring is present and only appears on opening.

Many makers of fine wines have avoided stelvin for their top bottles on the grounds that it increases the risk of fakes – already believed to be a problem within investment markets. Guala believe that as these producers discover that the new closure is safer than either conventional screw cap or cork, they will further increase their use of stelvin. It’s also expecting interest from the spirits sector – over 45,000 Russians died from fake vodka in 2007.

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