Title:
Closable containers
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Disclosed are containers for wine and other beverages which will avoid the problem of cork taint, be easy to manufacture and use, and have consumer acceptance. In particular, disclosed is a container which is characterized by a body having an axial bore defining an opening for the container, a cylindrical stopper within the bore, and a screw cap for closing off the bore, wherein the cylindrical stopper is made of synthetic material.



Inventors:
Esmond, Brendy Bishop (Vienna, VA, US)
Esmond, Robert William (Vienna, VA, US)
Application Number:
10/837626
Publication Date:
11/10/2005
Filing Date:
05/04/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D51/18; B65D51/20; (IPC1-7): B65D51/20
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
SMALLEY, JAMES N
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Robert W. Esmond (Vienna, VA, US)
Claims:
1. A container comprising a body having an axial bore defining an opening for the container, a cylindrical stopper within the bore, and a screw cap for closing off the bore, wherein the cylindrical stopper is made of synthetic material.

2. The container of claim 1 which is a wine bottle.

3. The container of claim 2, wherein the wine bottle contains wine.

4. The container of claim 3, wherein the wine is a still wine.

5. The container of claim 3, wherein the wine is a sparkling wine.

6. The container of claim 1, wherein the synthetic material is an elastomer.

7. The container of claim 2, wherein the elastomer is a foodstuff grade elastomer.

8. The container of claim 1, wherein the axial bore comprises a seat that contacts the cylindrical stopper and forms a seal.

9. The container of claim 1, wherein the screw cap may be opened and closed repeatedly.

10. The container of claim 1, wherein the screw cap has a cylindrical extension and a separation line that allows the screw cap to be separated from the cylindrical extension 7, thus simulating the foil sleeve on the neck of a wine bottle.

11. The container of claim 1 which is a wine bottle containing wine, wherein the synthetic material is a foodstuff grade elastomer, the axial bore comprises a seat that contacts the cylindrical stopper and forms a seal, wherein the screw cap may be opened and closed repeatedly, and wherein the screw cap has a cylindrical extension and a separation line that allows the screw cap to be separated from the cylindrical extension 7, thus simulating the foil sleeve on the neck of a wine bottle.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention also relates to an assembly for providing a closable container such as a wine bottle containing a stopper and a screw cap.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

“Corked” wine containing 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA) is a significant problem in the wine industry. TCA is a by-product of the chlorine bleaching process used to sanitize cork during manufacture, and give rise to an unacceptable smell something akin to wet cardboard or moldy bread. About 1 in 20 to about 1 in 10 bottles are corked, thus leading to significant economic losses.

The wine industry is actively looking for ways to avoid TCA taint. One way to avoid this taint is to bottle with screw caps. Screw caps are also much more economical than natural corks that are in limited supply. However, the use of screw caps is associated by consumers with low cost jug wines. Thus, the use of screw caps has yet to take off to a significant extent.

Another way to avoid TCA taint is to use synthetic corks. However, synthetic corks are not as compressible as natural corks and sometimes do not give a good fit leading to leakage and oxidation of the wine.

Other efforts have been directed at removing TCA from natural corks. For example, it has been reported that a Portuguese group—and the largest manufacturer of cork stoppers—has begun treating corks with pressurized water and steam to force out the volatile contaminants. Another group has begun to blast corks with carbon dioxide to remove the taint. Another solution to the problem is to pass the tainted wine though activated carbon. However, none of these solutions deal with the problem related to the limited supply of cork from Portugal.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the present invention to provide containers for wine and other beverages which will avoid the problem of cork taint, be easy to manufacture and use, and have consumer acceptance.

This object is achieved by the present invention by the creation of a container which is characterized by a body having an axial bore defining an opening for the container, a cylindrical stopper within the bore, and a screw cap for closing off the bore, wherein the cylindrical stopper is made of synthetic material.

When opening the container, the screw cap is first removed and then the cylindrical stopper is removed. The cylindrical stopper may be removed by any conventional means such as a cork screw, cork puller or by insertion of a needle with a compressed air source. When such a container is a wine bottle and is presented to a customer by the waiter or sommelier, the screw cap may be removed surreptitiously and then the cylindrical stopper may be removed, e.g. with a cork screw, thus simulating the opening of a wine bottle with a natural cork. This is expected to result in much greater consumer acceptance compared to when the wine bottle contains just a screw cap. In addition, the problems of TCA taint and oxidation of wine are avoided.

In a further embodiment, the axial bore comprises a seat that contacts the cylindrical stopper and forms a seal. In this embodiment, the cylindrical stopper may be fitted relatively loosely within the axial bore so that it may be easily extracted. The screw cap contacts the cylindrical stopper and forces the stopper onto the seat thereby forming the seal.

The screw cap may be designed in such a manner as to close off the container on only one occasion, so that once the container has been opened, it can no longer be closed again. However, the cylindrical stopper can in some embodiments be used to close the container again. In a preferred embodiment, the screw cap may be designed to all the container to be opened and closed repeatedly. Such screw caps are well known and commercially available.

Further advantageous embodiments of the container according to the invention are described in the following description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a part of a first exemplary embodiment of a container according to the invention, illustrating a cross-sectional, side view of the container 1 with a screw cap 2 and cylindrical stopper 3 within the axial bore 4.

FIG. 2 shows a part of a second exemplary embodiment of a container according to the invention, illustrating a cross-sectional, side view of the container 1 with a screw cap 2 and cylindrical stopper 3 resting on seat 5 at the end of the axial bore 4.

FIG. 3 shows a part of a third exemplary embodiment of a container according to the invention, illustrating a cross-sectional, side view of the neck 6 of container 1 with a screw cap 2 and cylindrical stopper 3, wherein the screw cap 2 has a cylindrical extension or sleeve 7 and a separation line (perforations) 8 that allows the screw cap 2 to be separated from the cylindrical extension 7, thus simulating the foil sleeve on the neck of a wine bottle.

DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

FIG. 1 shows part of a container body 1, which is a bottle. The bottle may be made of any one of the common materials used to make bottles including plastic (e.g. polycarbonate) and glass. The bottle may be filled with a number of consumable liquids, such as wine, brandy, sparkling cider, etc. The container comprises an axial bore 4 defining an opening for the container, a cylindrical stopper 3 within the bore, and a screw cap 2 for closing off the bore, wherein the cylindrical stopper is made of synthetic material. Examples of synthetic materials that may be used to make the cylindrical stopper include without limitation rubber or elastomer, e.g. silicone elastomer, preferably a foodstuffs grade silicone elastomer. Preferably, the cylindrical stopper 3 is of a diameter slightly larger than the diameter of the axial bore 4 and is compressed prior to insertion into the bore. Thus when the diameter of the axial bore 4 is 19 mm for a still wine or 17 mm for a sparkling wine, the cylindrical stopper may be 20-22 mm or 18-20 mm in diameter, respectively, and 40-50 mm long.

The screw cap 2 may be made of plastic or metal. Preferably, the screw cap 2 is made of aluminum.

As shown in FIG. 2, the axial bore 4 may comprise a seat at the end that contacts the cylindrical stopper and forms a seal. In this embodiment, the cylindrical stopper may be fitted relatively loosely within the axial bore so that it may be easily extracted. The screw cap contacts the cylindrical stopper and forces the stopper onto the seat thereby forming the seal. The diameter of the opening at the seat may range from 15-18 mm depending on the axial bore diameter.

As shown in FIG. 3, the screw cap 2 may have a cylindrical extension or sleeve 7 and a separation line 8 that allows the screw cap 2 to be separated from the cylindrical extension 7, thus simulating the foil sleeve on the neck of a wine bottle. The extension or sleeve may be made of the same material as the screw cap or different material. If a different material, the extension or sleeve may be joined to the screw cap in a manner that allows easy separation or a capsule is formed over the screw cap, e.g. with a heat shrinkable material such as described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,654,022. If made of the same material as the screw cap, there may be perforations or a weakened line that defines the place where the screw cap is separated from the extension or sleeve.

Having now fully described this invention, it will be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art that the same may be performed within a wide and equivalent range of conditions, materials and other parameters without affecting the scope of the invention or any embodiment thereof.