PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – Wine snobs may snub screw-off caps in place of natural corks, but a study says they have no reason to whine.

A blind taste test done by researchers for Oregon State University has found that the stopper – be it natural cork, synthetic cork or a cap – makes no discernible difference in taste.

But in a second study, consumers given a choice between the two kinds of stoppers were much more likely to choose corked wine, saying it was better quality. Others said they would pay less for wine that was topped with a screw-top bottle.

Emily Jorgensen, an Oregon State graduate student working with the university’s Food Innovation Center in Portland, said the results show that it may be difficult for the wine industry to phase in screw-top bottles.

“A sommelier opening a $100 bottle of wine with a twist of a metal screw top just doesn’t go over with many discerning consumers,” Jorgensen said. “When they couldn’t see the cork, they couldn’t make a distinction.”

This stinks, or it used to

SUNNYSIDE, Wash. (AP) – Hoping to shed the nickname “Smellyside,” the City Council has approved a $2.5 million agreement to move a 150-acre feedlot out of this Yakima Valley town.

A deal for the town to buy the land from Monson Ranches Feed Co., which promised not to open a similar operation within 20 miles, was approved Wednesday night after years of unsuccessful negotiations.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for the city of Sunnyside,” council member Jim Restucci said. “Our corridor has been suffering for a long time.”

Boosters in the central Washington town of 13,900 have blamed the feedlot, a source of frequently pervasive dust and reeking manure from 25,000 head of cattle, for hampering commercial and residential development.

Under the agreement, Monson is to stop delivering new cattle by Feb. 1, remove all cattle by Aug. 31 and get rid of all feedlot improvements and manure by July 31, 2006.

With the completion of each phase, Monson will be paid about a third of the total, and at the end title to the property will be transferred to the town, City Manager Bob Stockwell said.

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