An unusual ceremony took place in 2002 in New York at the city's Central Station. Numerous spectators witnessed the funeral of ... the wine cork. More precisely, there were a lot of natural wine corks, a mannequin was made of them, which was put in a coffin. The organizer of this strange event was businessman Randall Graham, the owner of a factory for the production of metal wine corks. Thus, Graham decided to show that the era of cork bark closures is a thing of the past, the era of new technologies is coming. The businessman was clearly in a hurry, and today natural corks are used by winemakers. Despite the fact that they first began to be produced four centuries ago.
However, even until the seventeenth century, the inhabitants of the Mediterranean countries used the bark of cork oak for sealing vessels with wine. But, precisely since that time, corks have become widespread, they do not deform from moisture, ensure tightness and do not change the taste of wine.
The bark from the cork oak begins to be removed at the age of 25. At the same time, the tree does not die, but becomes overgrown with new bark, which again becomes suitable for making corks every 7-10 years. The removed bark should lie down for several months, after which it is sorted and cut into plates, from which corks are made. The longest corks are used to seal the most expensive wines. During the life of a tree, the bark is removed from it up to 16 times. The total weight of the "crop" can be about 200 kg.
It is interesting that the bark, first removed from a tree, is practically not suitable for making corks. It has an uneven structure and crumbles easily. Therefore, it goes into the manufacture of life jackets, flooring or insulation.
Currently, cork oak grows in Portugal, France, Spain, Italy, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. The main producer is Portugal, where more than half of all corks are manufactured. It is believed that the climate of this country is most favorable for the cork oak.
Each stopper is checked by at least two experts. One of the specialists assesses the smoothness of the surface, and the task of the second is to check the compliance with the given shape. Only after such a strict examination is the cork sent to the wine shop.
Portuguese sociologists conducted a study, during which it was found that more than 70% of wine connoisseurs prefer a drink with natural rather than synthetic cork. Despite all the claims of scientists that plastic corks are no worse.
True, natural cork has one drawback - it is susceptible to fungal infection, which is why from 1 to 3 percent of wine bottles are rejected.
If you store the bottle vertically, the cork can dry out over time and lose its tightness. That is why, you need to store wine only in a horizontal position.
Even ecologists are in favor of preserving the production of natural corks. There is an explanation for this: many farmers who do not find a market for cork oak bark cut down entire groves, using the vacated area to grow other crops. As a result, the cork oak is threatened with complete extinction. In addition, the cork oak forests are the habitat of the Iberian lynx. The number of this animal is rapidly declining due to the cutting down of the cork oak.