Cork may have lost its monopoly on wine bottle closures but the reason has nothing to do with a cork shortage as some would have you believe! The reason has more to do with contaminating the wine itself with an off-putting odor or moldy taste referred to as “cork taint”. Winemakers in New Zealand and Australia discovered the problem was increasing and opted for trying a new method (not really new, it appears Switzerland implemented this first) using screw tops. Apparently you eliminate the cork taint which is a great benefit, however you introduce some new issues including the opposite of oxidation, oxygen reduction where gas formation is limited. This can also result in an aftertaste and altered nose. Additionally, the whole aluminum screw top method seems a little backwards in our efforts to protect our environment. I guess we can recycle them as well! The more sustainable option is definitely cork.
Locally in Virginia, Duane Cassis of Carpet Plus has taken the initiative with the ReCork C’ville program. According to Liz Eure, Director of Marketing Plus, “We are thrilled that after all this time since launching Re-Cork C’Ville (launched December 2009), it continues to grow and be a topic of conversation. We never had imagined it being quite this successful. With over 55 participating locations, we estimate that we’ve collected over 100,000 corks at this point, and the program shows no sign of slowing down.” Some 15 billion corks are sold into the market each year!
If you’re interested in making a smaller carbon footprint or just an eternal romantic like myself, keep the corks and wine flowing, but save the corks! For more information about recycling cork, check out the CarpetPlus website!