For as long as we can remember, wine bottles have been sealed with corks. But what is cork? How are wine corks made? And why are corks used for wine bottles, anyway? Hang onto your decanter, because we are going to solve this mystery!
What is a wine cork made of?
Wine corks are made out of the tree bark of Quercus Suber, also commonly known as cork oaks.
The bark of Quercus Suber is harvested every nine years from early May to late August, once the tree reaches its maturity; don’t worry as no trees are harmed during this process. After harvesting, the cork planks are placed on pallets and are prepped to be boiled. The planks are boiled to kill germs and soften the cork. The boiling process also flattens the cork to make it easier with which to work.
Next, the cork planks are graded and cut into workable pieces. Some will be used for making natural corks, which are solid pieces of cork that are cut in one piece. Other planks will be used to make technical corks, which are made up of small pieces of cork fused together.
The cork planks are then punched either manually by a worker, or by a machine punch that is operated by a worker. This process takes skill and precision because if a wrong move is made, the cork will not be able to be used, and it will be scrapped. The leftover scraps are then grounded up to make granules that are glued together to make agglomerate corks. Agglomerated corks are corks made from the granulated by-products of natural cork production. They are more of an economical alternative than using natural cork. They’re bound together using pressurization and adhesive agents.
Lastly, the corks are optically sorted by using blasts of air to send the corks into the appropriate grade of bins. The corks are then sorted further by factory workers and are placed in bins to be shipped out.
Where did cork originate?
Cork Oak originated from the western Mediterranean basin, in countries such as North Africa (Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco), southern France, Spain, Italy, and Portugal.
Why is cork used in wine bottles?
Cork is used in wine bottles because it can form to the shape of the bottle, and it makes an appealing way to seal wine. Cork is also a renewable resource, which is better for the environment than the screw-cap.
Pop open a bottle with us!
Now that you’ve learned all about corks, it’s time to join us for a glass of one of our vast varieties of wine! Reserve your table today or give us a call at 570-270-3818.