Thursday, June 11, 2009

Real cork or robot poo?

In Australia, composite plastic 'corks' and screw-top lids have replaced natural cork stoppers in the majority of wine bottles. I wonder if many people think about the decline of Spanish and Portuguese cork plantations and the implications of this change for various interrelated systems? Cork-producing regions are some of the last places in Europe where sustainable local economies still dovetail harmoniously with nature ...

For the past few years I've tried to buy bottles with real cork, as a small protest against the overwhelming market dominance of 'robot poo' plastic alternatives. Apparently the BBC has produced a documentary about cork oaks, which I hope to find somewhere soon. Naturewatch sets the scene thus:

"Every time we weigh up which bottle of wine to buy, we hold the fate of nightingales, rare black storks, secretive wild cats and one of the world’s most remarkable trees in our hands. It’s all to do with the stopper. If it’s cork, it probably came from the bark of one of the ancient cork oak trees from the Montados, in the Alentejo region of Portugal. The cork oak is the only tree in the world whose bark can be periodically removed without killing it. But this tree is amazing in other ways.... it survives in poor soil and searing heat and provides not only nesting places for Booted Eagles but also space for some of Europe’s rarest wildflowers.... "

I wonder if we can really know what will be lost if cork stoppers are totally replaced by plastic or screwtops?

(Cork pic from here; oak pic from here)

1 comment:

m. heart said...

i am personally so disappointed when i find one of those rubbery stoppers sealing up my wine bottle. is nothing sacred? i actually collect the corks from my wine and champagne bottles and display them in glass candle holders or jars. on some i've written the occasion, date and names of the people who shared the wine with me. i won't be adding any robot poo corks to my collecton though.

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