A glass of wine calls for romance, sophistication and pleasure…the unravelling of complex flavours in the mouth. Yes, a simple glass of wine might elevate us from our daily stresses into higher states of mind allowing for a cheerful and relaxed mood to arise instead.
Imagine you are getting home after one of those days, you head for the wine holder and take a bottle from there, you are then ready to get into the ceremony of wine opening, getting the glasses in line…By the way, would you prefer your bottle to be sealed with a traditional cork, a plastic stopper or a screw cap?
Well, I guess for some of us it will not make a huge amount of difference. For most of us, however, it still does and that is so incredibly positive!
It’s positive in a number of ways: natural cork is the everlasting emotional closure of tradition and also it is the most environment-friendly option for bottle sealing.
The cork industry is one of the most sustainable industries out there. Experts proclaim cork trees (Quercus suber L.) can live up to 200 years and can be stripped of their bark every 9 years, without harming the tree.
The 3 million hectares of cork oak forests from the South of Portugal and Spain are fragile ecosystems that hold a breath of endangered biodiversity including the endangered Spanish imperial eagle and the Iberian lynx, according to the non-profit conservation group BirdLife International.
In addition to their ecological value, the cork oak forests also have important roles within the social and economic contexts, providing stable livelihood in the country of origin.
Although cork might have (if untreated) a negative effect on the wine quality caused by a fungus that grows on it (cork taint) and by the presence of minimal amounts of cork dust, it comes with excellent physical characteristics such as low density, high elasticity (it swells when coming into contact with moisture) and long lifespan. Corks are biodegradable as well as recyclable.
Wine researchers asserted that natural cork allows for the right amount of oxygen to be exchanged into the wine, preserving fruit intensity and minimizing the tendency for reduced characters. On the other hand screw caps allowed for no air exchange, thus not allowing for the wine ageing processes to develop while plastic corks allowed for too much air in, resulting in excessive oxidisation of the wine (Lopez et al., 2006).
So if you choose to have a bottle of wine sealed with a traditional cork, you know you will be doing the right thing: you will be subscribing to the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) program of sustainability and as Jim Bernau of Willamette Valley Vineyards (WVV) verbalized “We are responsible stewards from the land, it is not all about the wine”.
Lopes P., Saucier C., Glories Y. (2006) Impact of storage position on oxygen ingress through different closures into wine bottles. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: 54 (18) 6741-6746.