Cork v Caps

on Wed 17 Sep
Pros: Cork has a long history, it has been used to seal wine for over 400 years. They're a renewable resource, readily biodegradable and they support a whole industry of corkscrews and other cork removal products
Cons:Wine corks can go bad, estimates vary but it s said that between 1 and 20% of all wine sold is "corked". Wine corks can be difficult to remove and sometimes break when being removed.
Pros:Plastic is immune to cork taint so wine is less likely to spoil, they are recyclable
Cons:If not recycled, plastic corks pose a more direct threat to the environment. The plastic cork if it loses its elasticity over time might become unsuitable for wines meant to age.
Pros:Screw caps, avoid problems of cork taint.  They are less expensive than both of the above and they can be removed without any special equipment.
Cons:As with plastic corks screw caps imply environmental issues associated with the loss of cork farming.
Cork harvesting Portugal
 Here are some reports I found from wine reporters and makers
Lucy Siegle from The Observer reports
“In recent years the cork had been steadily usurped by cleaner more convenient screw caps but the environmental impact of this social shift is massive.
The annual cork oak harvest of the Alentejo in Portugal happens sometime between June and August. You find a team of about 20 men, ranging in ages from 16 to 70, striking huge twisted trees with axes. Then with the sensitivity you would not associate with an axe, they prise the juicy bark from the tree and it is levered from the trunk. A white number is painted in the tree. It will be nine years before its disturbed again" 

 Devon Fisher from Think Green Live Clean says
“Are there consequences of steering away from the age old cork stopper?
The cork industry is helping to sustain one of the world’s most bio diverse forests as the outer bark is harvested by hand, every 9 years, this allows the tree to consume 10 tons more carbon dioxide!
A year - long study found that CO2 emissions resulting from the life cycle of a screw cap are 24 times higher than those from a natural cork stopper, with a plastic stopper is responsible for 10 times more CO2 than natural cork. According to this study natural cork is the only closure for winemakers that want to minimise their carbon footprint"
Dieter Sellmeyer from Lynx Wines Franschhoek South Africa (one of our favourite suppliers from this region) on his web-site writes
"Back in 2006 while bottling the 2005 vintage, we ran out of screw top bottles for our Tinto. We switched to cork and continued bottling the last bottles.  The result was we had the perfect comparative cork vs. screw cap.
Early in August 2009 we opened a bottle of each, the wines had evolved into two amazingly different wines:
SCREWCAP:  the wine was vibrant and had retained all of its freshness and fruit. The tannins were more grippy than under cork, but nevertheless smooth as one would expect from a 4 year old wine. Overall an excellent wine.
CORK: This wine was showing considerably more age than it's opponent. The colour was paler but not necessarily any signs of oxidation. The presence of oxygen was evident though on both nose or pallets. It had lost much of the upfront fruit. The tannins were silky smooth. The wine evolved showing more age than one would expect after 4 years.
CONCLUSION: We all enjoyed the wine under screw cap the one under screw cap will last another 3 to 4 years, whilst under cork should be drunk within the next 12 months. It did 'prove' that air goes through the cork closure."
 Finally from Victoria Moore of The Telegraph
“The 2010 cork and screw cap bottlings from the same tank, bottled on the same day. I tasted them blind with two wine colleagues.
We all agreed on their clear differences. One had only a faint smell and was quite smoky and linear with high initial impact that quickly fell away.
The other was more aromatic and expressive, far easier to identify as a Sauvignon Blanc, I identified a slightly green phenolic finish that was hidden on the first sample. We all preferred the second bottle.
I took 2 bottles into the office where 8 guinea pigs failed to suspect they were tasting the same wine; they preferred the smell of the wine under cork and the taste of the one under screw cap" 
What's your opinion? Let us know where you stand on this great debate
Personally however, wine is not just for drinking it is a whole experience - I think life wouldn't be the same without that lovely sound after a long day of a

cork popping!

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