Monday, 6 August 2007

Plastic, not axes, threatens cork forests

Ecologists are worried about cork forests. But what the article does not say is why cork started being replaced in the first place. For one thing, cork is a bottle closure of very variable quality. That is why the sommelier pours a little into the glass. Not so you can taste it. So you can smell it. A bottle that is "corked" gives itself away immediately. And a significant percentage of bottles can go that way if the source of the cork is not very carefully monitored. And, as usual with skills at a premium, the industry looks at ways of eliminating this variable. Especially when the cork may not be enough to satisfy the market needs. Not so long ago similar stories were predicting shortages of cork - a good way to both drive up the price and send the bottlers to the competition.

And, like a lot about wine, corks are heavily favoured as a result of snobbery and tradition. I like red wine and I value its beneficial effects on my health. But I am not going to drink a bottle at one sitting nor am I going to throw it away after a day or so as it has turned into vinegar. So I buy it in one litre cartons with a plastic screw cap. That way I can squash the container as I drink the wine to exclude the air from the remainder. There is not much choice here at the moment but what there is, is of acceptable quality and price, and I expect that it will grow in range over time.

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