One of the biggest-selling wine brands in the UK is ditching traditional corks in favour of screw caps.

Jacob's Creek said the move was to safeguard the "quality and consistency" of its product. It follows growing acceptance of screw caps in place of corks. All of the Australian winery's bottles up to £7.99 will be cork-free by early next year. The super premium Heritage Range will follow next November.

Adrian Atkinson, the wine development director at the brand's parent company, Pernod Ricard, said: "Responding to concurrent demands of retailers, consumers and Jacob's Creek's wine-making team, the decision has been taken with immediate effect to put the entire Jacob's Creek range under screw cap in order to preserve fruit flavours and guarantee consistently high quality."

Research for Pernod Ricard UK by Omnibus earlier this year showed that British drinkers had an "increasingly positive" perception of screw-cap wine quality, the firm said. Guy Woodward, editor of the wine magazine Decanter, said screw tops were criticised because they did not allow small amounts of oxygen to reach red wines, which need it as they age.

Jose Mourinho, manager of Chelsea FC, appeared in Portuguese Cork Association advertisements earlier this year extolling the value of its bottle stoppers. Portugal has half of the world's cork forests, which are home to many endangered species of birds and animals.

The disadvantage of corks, compared with screw tops, is that chemical contaminants from some corks can make wine taste musty.

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