By Becca Yeamans of The Academic Wino.

How a winery chooses to close a bottle of wine depends on a variety of factors, from function to consumer perception/marketing. While natural cork closures are the more traditional choice, there has been a lot of technological advancement in the closure industry. There are

many different kinds of synthetic and technological closures on the market, from cork-alternatives to screwcaps, many of which are designed to optimize oxygen ingress into the wine, as well as minimize or eliminate the presence of cork taint.  Despite these technological advances, many wineries still prefer to use natural cork for their closures, as from a marketing perspective, cork is associated with the highest quality according to the average consumer.

Though much is known about the technical differences between wine bottle closures, very few studies in the academic literature have looked at closure type from the consumer perspective, namely consumer associations between closure type and wine quality characteristics. Other non-academic studies have been performed regarding this topic – for example, one year ago, a study by Wine Opinions in conjunction with The Portuguese Cork Association and the Cork Quality Council, found that consumers preferred the natural cork closure as they preferred the tradition and “romance” of pulling of the cork ritual, and that 68% of participants felt wine closed with natural cork was of higher quality.

While there are many of these types of studies out there, there aren’t as many found in the academic literature.  A new study, accepted into the International Journal of Hospitality Management (and currently available online), aimed to add to these relatively small number of studies by examining how wine closure type affects wine quality perceptions by the average consumer.

Brief Methods

This study took place on the campus of Washington State University in 2013 and recruited a total of 310 people (though only 299 were used for statistical analysis). Participants included students, parents, faculty/staff, and other members of the community …

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