Randal Grahm, forgive me, I know you believe in the screwtop closure, but after visiting the cork oak forests in Ribatejo, Portugal today as part of the European Wine Bloggers Conference, I am now a firm believer in cork. And, if you’re listening, and I hope you will be, I will tell you why. I may not convince you in this post but hopefully by the next one.
Cork as a closure for wine got a bad name because some wines became “corked” which means that they became infected with TCA and turned bad.
While this is a rare occurrence, if it is YOUR special wine that got corked, you’re not going to be a happy camper about it. You will be tempted to turn against cork. (Read another post about cork taint here.)
Alternative closures to cork are nothing new. Really. But they have become more popular in recent years. So popular that it has had an impact on the cork industry and that industry is fighting back. With both fists. And a LOT of money–millions in fact into research and development to understand where TCA comes from and how it can be prevented.
Turns out, TCA infection can come from a variety of sources, not just cork. The cardboard box, for example. Just about anywhere, actually. But cork was and is the prime suspect so the cork industry has figured out ways to sanitize the corks and remove the risk of TCA almost completely so that instances of TCA from cork sources are reduced to the point where the many benefits of using natural cork (instead of a screw top or a plastic cork) shine and win.
Yes, cork is more expensive, much more expensive than a screw top or a plastic cork which costs practically nothing and adds practically nothing to the value of the wine.
But there is more to the picture than a simple closure. And in my next post, I will tell you about the cork trees, cork forests, and the natural ecosystems and the human communities that revolve around healthy, productive cork industry–an industry which relies on YOU, the consumer and the wine producer, staying with cork.
And one day soon, I hope to show you pictures of my new beautiful cork floors!!