Screwcap Scams

Neil Pendock December 13, 2008 6

While Kalk Bay may boast some of the freshest seafood in the Cape, when it comes to wine it’s a different matter entirely. Lunching on the mini False Bay waterfront earlier this week, my Johannesburg friends watched an impromptu sideshow of waiters pouring leftover bottles of 2008 vintage Franschhoek white into a single bottle which was “resealed” with a screwcap, presumably ready to be served to the next punter.


The debate over the merits of screwcap versus cork as wine closure is a hoary young chestnut hauled out at regular intervals to give tired newspaper wine columns a fillip and to enliven the comment sections of moribund internet blogs While Decanter reporting that NASA airocide technology can remove TCA taint from corks made last week a good one for Amorim, that inventive Kalk Bay waitstaff have come up with a new way of fleecing tourists might be even better news for sales. Especially when a few cases of cholera break out after a Zimbabwe tour to Kalk Bay.

For when offered a screwcapped bottle, when did you last check for an unbroken seal? A re-corked bottle is a dead giveaway, especially if closed with a plastic stopper, which are impossible to reinsert without some serious plastic topiary. Given the price of mineral water, wine is probably not the only beverage with which consumers are being screwed.

Of course the biggest scandal is the volume of SA white being left undrunk in Kalk Bay restaurants. Perhaps high acid levels of vintage 2008 have something to do with this as heartburn is a common complaint. And is the upsurge in rosé for real, or is it perhaps colour blind waitrons mixing leftover white with red? At least we now know why False Bay is so named and the habitat for sharks is not restricted to Neptune’s Domain.


  1. enzo December 14, 2008 at 10:15 am -

    surely screwcaps just make an old unscrupulous practice easier to get away with?.. i’ve heard plenty instances of wine bottles being refilled and having the cork replaced in the past.

    it’s like mp3s replacing tape recordings in music piracy.

    as for SA wines being too acidic, there are always alternatives. 😉

  2. Piet December 15, 2008 at 11:51 am -

    “hauled out at regular intervals”
    “tired newspaper wine columns”
    “moribund internet blogs”

  3. Marius December 15, 2008 at 12:41 pm -

    Piet, what is your point?

  4. Team Wicanders December 15, 2008 at 6:40 pm -

    We get your point exactly. Your post gives everyone another good reason to choose wine with the environmentally-friendly choice of cork oak stoppers versus plastic, and screw caps. But we’re partial and we know it, so forgive us. We can save an eco-system and an industry if more people start agreeing.
    Team Wicanders

  5. Peter May December 15, 2008 at 11:17 pm -

    The restaurant staff may have been intendingto take the wine back themselves.

    But should they have been intending fraud — well, that all too frequently happens. Brand name spirit bottles refilled with supermarket own labels etc.

    Many eateries bring wine closed with corks to the table already opened.

    To use this supposed fraud as an argument for corks against screwcaps is just nonsensical. If it becomes a problem then a paper seal over the closure will take care of it.

  6. Steve December 17, 2008 at 10:02 pm -

    It is not unusual to get poor and stingy service in that part of the world. We were recently charged R2.00 for each condiment at a fish and chips restaurant. I try and avoid visiting restaurants anywhere between Muizenberg and Simonstown. There are a lot better options in Cape Town.

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