Here are some great facts for wine lovers.
Twelve billion corks are produced annually worldwide. These include corks and sparkling wine corks guaranteed to be free of TCA (cork taint) by the leading cork manufacturer, Amorim. Cork oak trees can be stripped of their bark only once every nine years; the bark is then turned into cork stoppers. The cork tree was officially named Portugal’s national tree in 2011.
If you have ever driven through Portugal and parts of Spain, you know the countryside is covered with cork trees. And you also know what the cork harvest looks like, and how “naked” the cork tree looks after. The bark of trees older than 25 years is carefully stripped from the tree to protect it and perpetuate the life of the tree. The bark is dried for up to six months then boiled for a few hours and then allowed to dry another 2 to 4 weeks.
The widespread use of cork ultimately resulted in wine bottles undergoing a transformation from short and fat to tall and slender, because the slender neck was easily sealed with cork plugs. Spain and Portugal produce over 80 percent to the cork used in the world. Cork comes from the bark of a Cork Oak Tree.
The Egyptians were the first to use cork as a stopper thousands of years ago. In 1750, the first cork stopper factory opened in Anguine, Spain.
In the 1600’s, a monk called Dom Perignon was using wooden stoppers wrapped in rags to seal his bottles of wine. These crude plugs most often just popped out and were ineffective. He started using cork plugs and successfully stoppered his best wines.
There are over 5 million acres of cork forest in the world and over thirty percent of that area is in Portugal. There are three basic sizes of natural cork from the standard size up to the larger champagne cork. While cork is still the preferred sealer for bottled wine, some wine producers have begun using screw cap sealing systems on their bottles; thereby, throwing out the romance and sophistication of opening a corked bottle of great wine.
Did you know you can buy used corks online?
The cork oak (Quercus suber) is grown primarily in Portugal, and can reach 60 feet high and 12 feet in circumference when fully grown. It is harvested once every NINE years! No wonder they use (for purely financial reasons) plastic or screw caps now.
Truth be known, there is no cork shortage! There is enough cork to bottle all of the wine for the next one hundred years!
Do you think you can estimate the number of corks you have encountered in your life time? Let’s say you have two bottles of wine a week, for a total of about a hundred a year. And let’s say that you have been drinking wine for 40 years. That would be 4000 corks in your lifetime. Does that sound right?