Cheap wine is usually awful. I mean, isn’t life just too short to drink vinegar? In an ideal situation… yes. However, as plastic corks and screw-tops increasingly become the norm (grabbing a 20% share of the market up from just 2% in 2000) something incredibly abnormal is taking place. The world’s cork forests are being sacrificed according to environmentalists worldwide.
“Quality wines won’t ever suffer this problem,” says Battista Giannottu, an agronomist who works with a consortium representing Sardinia’s cork producers. However, the mass market or 80% could use synthetic corks. This is not just a financial problem for the cork farmers, but also an ecological one.
Cork production is sustainable. Only the bark is shaved off the tree, thus cork trees can be used again and again and prove to be an excellent habitat for animals such as wild boar, hawks, Iberian lynx and Barbary Deer.
Reuters reported that:
“As well as being cheaper alternatives, plastic and metal do not pose the same risk of “corking” the wine — when a chemical called TCA is present in the stopper and gives the wine a “mouldy” odour.
“But cork producers and environmentalists are fighting back. Aiming to cash in on the demand for ‘green’ products, they have started to produce corks certified ‘environmentally friendly’ under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) scheme, an ‘eco-label’ system already widespread for timber products.
“Backers of the FSC scheme hope ‘green’ wine buyers will prefer a bottle with the FSC label. Cork makers hope it can guarantee their future by differentiating their traditional product from the upstarts.”
So Punk, next time you’re out and you fancy a fine vintage, make sure it’s a corker!