Hi Junko! The problem is a diminished lack of respect to tradition. What ever happened to cork boards, cork coasters -- not to mention putting a cork in it? I am surprised the cork industry hasn't fought back at plastic corks by noting the environmental issues. Cork is biodegradable, right. That plastic cork from a cheap but oddly pleasing bottle of rotgut Benji opened will still be there long after we are but vague memories.
Junko, enjoyed the whole article, commentaries and photos!
Thanks for your "work while on vacations" ;-)
I am partial for natural cork products for the warmth and high quality aesthetic value.
I enjoy on flooring and walls, for their great acoustic properties.
On item I did not realize, was the method of harvesting. I assumed incorrectly that the complete tree trunk was used.
Geesh now I feel bad that we are undressing these trees , not once but more than 100 times in their live times, WoW ;-)
Everything I've read from what I consider to be knowledgeable sources says that artifical cork, or even screw tops, are just fine, as far as the wine is concerned.
Also, more than once I've opened a wine bottle where the cork had dried badly, and disintegrated while I was unstopping the bottle. This wouldn't happen with articial cork. It's especially annoying when this happens with Champagne or Asti, which is also not all that unusual.
Still, a lot of wine fans object, especially to screw tops. Myself, I don't object to the artifical cork. The main reason being, it's appearing on wines that I've liked for a long time, and the taste doesn't seem to suffer at all. Screw tops? Mmm.
I was engaged with the reading of the whole article and the comments.
But, does a cork really add a difference in flavor to wine? is it better than compared to a plastic cap?
Anyway, is really nice to see the pictures and the video of how cork is harvested. I wandered on if the cork trees would be able to shed again but you answered it in the same article. Each 7-9 years. And each tree lasts around 600 years! wow that's 6 or perhaps 7 human generations. It must be a business inherited within the family. Nice of you to share your leisure time with the engineering community, thanks!
The "shortage of cork" must be an urban legend nobody had really challenged.
I think that there is a cost issue -- when it comes to screw tops vs. cork stoppers. But as Mollet told me (Mollet also has vineyards -- so that he can diversify his business), the cost differential is minimum. (But of course, he quickly added, if you are a HUGE wine producer, the difference may be more visible.) But again, if you are a quality wine guy, why would you fall for screw tops?
Thank you for the story - I also had heard of the cork shortage and while I also enjoy real corks for my wine I also have heard that artificial "corks" can be much more consistent and regulated (air exchange properties) to certain wine varieties.
From the Engineering logical side I would much prefer corks be use airplanes or other industrial uses for many years vs used and trashed in bottles....Also, when will the "cork" with a microprocessor\zigbee\wifi monitoring temp\ph\O2 and updating your wine chiller\computer with updates be built ;)
This is a fascinating article. I had no idea how all of this worked and, as did Bert, I had thought that cork was in short supply. I had also thought that the use of cork was environmentally unfriendly, but your article shows that not to be the case.
Thanks for your comment. Indeed, I did google it, and found a classic design from the 1938 book "Things a Boy Can Do with Electricity"
All kidding aside, material science in cork composite is advancing.
See what a team of University of Delaware guys is doing:
Thanks for the link, Bert. It's informative.
Of course, not every cork, harvested from cork oak, is of the same quality. So, some cork is definitely good for bottle stoppers for wine and others are not...at least that's what I learned from my host, Philip Mollet.