Natural cork stoppers for wine bottles are making a big-time comeback. Synthetic cork stoppers and screw-top bottles have become increasingly common over the last decade, but now winemakers are returning to traditional corks – much to the delight of environmentalists.
Mediterranean cork forests, the source of virtually all the world’s wine corks, are sensitive ecosystems that are home to a wide variety of endangered species like the Iberian Eagle and the Barbary Deer. And the harvesting of their bark actually supports the health of the trees, which can live for hundreds of years.
In addition, natural cork stoppers are biodegradable, unlike plastic versions or metal screw-tops. Considering that thousands of vineyards produce billions of bottles of wine each year, that’s a surprisingly massive amount of waste. Natural corks can also be recycled to produce products like cork flooring.
So why the change? Well, in addition to the environmental advantages, customers just seem to prefer real corks in their wine bottles. After all, cork has done a great job of sealing bottles for hundreds of years.
Plus, you can’t use a nifty corkscrew on a screw-top.