La Sauceda – part three (Plastic corks suck)

I understand there is a big campaign within the North American wine industry attempting to convince consumers that plastic screw tops are better than traditional corks.   The debate wages on;  plastic versus natural.  Read on for a shameless endorsement for cork.  The plastic people debate shelf life and cork tint.  I extol the virtues of noises like POP and PHSST.  I have no data, just nice pictures of pretty trees.

Have you ever seen a cork forest?  About a third of the world’s cork forests and subsequent cork production are here in our backyard.

They are gorgeous, magical places.

Notice that the cork, which is the outer bark of the tree, has been cut by hand on the lower branches and trunk.

The cork is ready for harvest when the tree reaches twenty-five years old. After that, it is cut on a nine-year cycle.  The trees will live about two hundred years.  There are both economic and environmental incentives to care for the existing forest.  This is not “log it, pave it, stick on McDonalds on it” forestry.

Cork is a fabulous renewable resource and a traditional way of life for many people of Los Alcornocales Natural Park, (Which translates as Cork Forest Park.) It takes a lot of care and skill to hand cut the bark without scraping the cambium.  The cork industry comes with a natural incentive for conservation.  Older well cared for trees produce more cork.

Cork is durable, natural and sustainable.  But more importantly, plastic screw tops are no fun.  Really, a fundamental part of drinking wine is hearing that POP when the cork slips out.  Just like the PHSST sound of a can of beer is crucial. It really is an emotional debate.

Did I convince you yet?




  1. I thank you, and I will renew my interest in cork, but I still prefer a srew top for ”reaching behind the drivers seat” type of action.

    1. Eric makes a good point. I didn’t compare and contrast the relative advantages of drinking and driving with cork versus plastic. I’ll check the data.

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