In the last ten years the cork industry has seen dramatic changes in desire for their product. Although cork is a 100 per-cent natural and renewable material, wineries are enclosing their bottles with synthetic or plastic mocks due to tainted wine.
With 50 per-cent of the globe’s cork production, Portugal has experienced a decline of their main industry which accounts for 16 per-cent of the country’s foreign income. Although the screw cap alternatives are easier to handle, various factors of ecological responsibility are ignored for the non-traditional method of “poppin’ bottles.”
Every nine years, a cork oak tree is stripped of its bark to produce the light and flexible cork material. This processes helps the tree re-new and strive to live for up to 300 years. Apart from wine stoppers, the cork industry has expanded to flooring, footwear and unique crafting ideas (to name a few). However, these uses may not be enough to support Portugal’s 500 factories and 50,000 industry professionals.
Making up 5.3 million acres of forest, these special oak trees are home to many endangered species. As a major source for CO2 retention, it is no argument that cork provides a friendly green advantage over plastic stoppers, which produce 10-24 times more greenhouse gases.
António Rios de Amorim of APCOR or the Portuguese Cork Association says he believes that there has been a 30 per-cent reduction in cork output since 2001.
Amorim Cork is the largest producer of the natural stopper, with 3.2 billion produced in 2010. They are also responsible for the creation of ReCork by Amorim. This organization reuses old corks (corks to date 41,220,110) to create footwear with their partner SOLE. This movement also strengthens Portuguese forests by planting more of the protected tree. So far they have planted 8,472 Cork Oak trees in the last several years. ReCork has a number of drop-off locations in Canada, where you can put your cork collection to valuable use.
Obviously a preference exists for wine drinkers everywhere. Depending on your love for convenience or the economy, the stopper choice of a winery my influence your purchase. While cork is essential for aging wines gracefully, screw caps are very handy if you’re planning on opening the bottle as soon as you get home. The ritual, however, of opening a bottle does not have the same effect with a screw cap. Amorim said, “The only argument in favour of screw caps is now convenience. But what you gain in convenience you lose in style.” What is your preference?