Posted on May 23, 2021 39
An unusual ceremony took place in 2002 in New York City at Grand Central Station. Many spectators witnessed the funeral... of a wine cork. More precisely, there were many natural wine corks, and they made a mannequin from them and placed it in the coffin. The organizer of this bizarre event was business executive Randall Grahm, the owner of a metal wine cork manufacturing company. Graham thus showed that the era of cork closure materials is a thing of the past and that a new era of technology is dawning. The business executive was clearly in a hurry, and nowadays natural cork is used by winemakers. Although they were first made four centuries ago.
Before the seventeenth century inhabitants of Mediterranean countries used cork oak bark to seal wine containers. But since that time corks became widespread, they do not deform because of humidity; they ensure airtightness and do not change the taste of wine.
The bark from cork oak is removed at the age of 25 years. Here, the tree does not die, but grows new bark, which again becomes suitable for making corks after every 7-10 years. Removed bark should rest for several months, after which it is sorted and cut into plates, from which the plugs are made. The longest ones are used to cork the most expensive wines. The bark is removed from the tree up to 16 times during its life. The total mass of the “harvest” could be around 200 kilograms.
Interestingly, the bark, first removed from the tree, for the production of stoppers is practically not suitable. It has an irregular structure and easily crumbles. Therefore, goes to make life jackets, flooring or insulation.
Cork oak currently grows in Portugal, France, Spain, Italy, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. The major producer is Portugal, where more than half of all cork is made. It is believed that the climate of this country is the most favorable for cork oak.
Each cork is checked by at least two experts. One expert evaluates the smoothness of the surface, and the task of the second one is to check the compliance with the given shape. Only after this rigorous examination the cork is sent to the wine shop.
The Portuguese sociologists conducted a study which revealed that over 70% of wine connoisseurs prefer a drink with a natural rather than synthetic cork. Despite all the assertions of scientists, that cork from plastic is not worse.
The natural cork has one drawback: it is susceptible to fungus infection, which can lead to rejection of up to three percent of bottles of wine.
If you store the bottle vertically, the cork over time can dry out and lose its tightness. Therefore, wine should only be stored horizontally.
Even environmentalists are in favor of preserving the production of natural corks. There explains this: many farmers who do not find a market for cork oak bark, cut down entire groves, using the freed area to grow other crops. As a result, the cork oak is in danger of disappearing altogether. Cork oak groves are the habitat of the Iberian lynx. The numbers of this animal are rapidly decreasing because of the deforestation of the cork oak.