When I buy a bottle of wine, a cork closure is as much a choice for me, as is the wine.

Having read a story about cork in the Wall Street Journal called, “Plastic or real cork: Which is the better way to seal a wine bottle?” it got me thinking, and I became interested enough to actually sign up for being able to comment on their Website.

My comment was:

CORK: I’ll always choose natural over unnatural.

There’s something warm and aesthetic about cork, and it’s biodegradable.

I’ve been very fortunate to have traveled through the cork forests of Portugal, I know that taking cork from a tree is like sheering sheep. After harvest, the trees are marked with the year they were harvested, and allowed to grow more layers for the next nine years. (Imagine how tiny a cork would be if only one layer was allowed to grow before harvest.) It takes nine layers to return the cork’s depth to a point that will allow for the creation of more usable cork with depth for wine bottles.

If we have the ability to remain natural, what is the advantage for people and the environment to become unnatural?

In this picture of a cork tree I took while there, you can see that it was harvested in 2007. I took this in November 2009, and it was two years later, so you can barely see the date. It does continue to show in the bark, so cork harvesters know when the tree is ready once again.

I know that plastic, glass, and stelvin closures (twist offs) are alternative, and have created lots of jobs for lots of people, but I’m still an old hippie, as my friend the Cosmic Muffin used to call me. Old hippies love things from the earth, crafted by the hands of men and women… Pottery, jewelry, arts and crafts, and cork closures.

What’s very interesting to me is in my Q&A sessions with wine writers. I ask this question,

What’s your favorite innovation in the wine industry over the past few years?

I’m willing to bet, without having to go back and read each answer, that 95 percent of the respondents answer that screw tops are the innovation that they most enjoy. I might even answer that one with the same answer, but I still love cork, too… most especially now that I’ve seen cork trees first hand, and stopped at a cork yard to take pictures of harvest. I now have a deeper appreciation of cork’s unique attributes.

In the WSJ story’s comments, of the 11 comments only one person wasn’t familiar with cork, and thought it might hurt the trees to harvest from them. Once she had it explained that it’s a natural process, she went in the direction of cork.

Madalena Santos wrote, “I just want to mention four advantages of the Cork:

  1. The wine really needs to breathe
  2. Cork is 100% recyclable and the plastic (zero)
  3. Energy consumption of the plastic products cycle is much bigger
  4. Plastic is not a natural product (see what happened in supermarkets – they have eliminated plastic bags because they were a threat to the environment)

Also, excellent links were given by people supporting cork:

Save Miguel! Rob Schneider finds Miguel! Very cute and worth watching…

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