While many have welcomed the convenience of screw top wine bottles, their popularity has tarnished Spain’s wine cork industry, and the cork cutters that depend on their seasoned seal’s survival.
For three generations Antonio Gorgot’s family have lugged axes into the Spanish mountains, slicing bark off carefully selected oak trees to provide the perfect palliative plug.
However, over the last couple of years this lifestyle has been threatened. That is, until now, as knights in white coats have stepped in to prove the classic cumbersome cork is still the best way to preserve bottled wine.
“We’re totally in debt to the labs. It’s great for our market that they have shown that cork has advantages over other competitors,” said Gorgot.
Extensive cork analyses has also resulted in the establishment of a European protocol to ensure of quality cork practices, and that any tawdry counterparts (offcuts glued together) are phased out.
Thus cork cutters are saying Spain’s wine cork industry, now the second largest in the world, has resurged after scientists helped boost the quality of wine cork production.
Manel Pretel, director of the Catalan Cork Institute, says “real cork works very well. “(Synthetic corks) generated problems such as the loss or gain of oxygen which weren’t issues with real cork.”
This is good news indeed for a flailing Spanish economy, which has produced wine corks since the 19th-century. Each year Spain sells three billion corks, and last year it made 300 million euros selling corks abroad.
Environmentally concerned wine lovers can also take solace in the fact that growing cork trees removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Cork is also a renewable source, as any bark sliced from a cork tree grows back.
However, Daniel Piplet, from East Anglian Screwtop Yearning (EASY), is outraged by the latest twist of events. He says not only will boozy convenience now be virtually abolished, first date embarrassments and brutal cork accidents will return to haunt the practically inept.