It’s older than your wine
Cork trees take a very long time to grow and won’t be harvested for at least 25 years. After that the bark is only stripped off once every nine years but it’s not until the third harvest that the cork can be used to make a wine stopper, meaning the tree will be at least 43 years old before the cork ever meets wine.
The sound of a cork makes wine tastier
A study at Oxford University at the Crossmodal Research Laboratory headed up by psychologist Professor Charles Spence found participants rated the bottles sealed with a cork as 15 per cent better in quality. However, the reason for the improvement is perhaps surprising, with the scientists' findings suggesting that the noise of the cork leaving the bottle makes the drink taste better.
Corks don’t stop air getting in and out of the bottle
Quality corks allow a minimal amount of oxygen into the wine. The best corks allow close to 1 milligram of oxygen to enter the bottle each year. This is just the right amount of air to remove the sulfites that were added in the bottling process to keep the wine fresh and to avoid the harmful effects of oxidation. This small amount of air is perfect for helping age-worthy wines develop their complexities while the tannins are busy softening.
Defective corks are sniffed out of the production line
Part of quality control at some cork companies involves workers sniffing jars of corks to identify defective ones before they’re sent on to vineyards.
Corked wine is caused by TCA
Cork taint is caused by the presence of the chemical 2,4,6-trichloroanisole, or TCA, in the cork. This leaves the wine drinker thinking something is inherently wrong with the wine without realizing it's the TCA that's the problem. A corked wine is not harmful to drink, but it is unpleasant.
You can screen for TCA
Over the past decade or so, the wine cork industry has worked to drastically reduce the number of TCA-tainted corks that end up in wine. Several companies are now testing corks in a non-destructive way, and fewer and fewer tainted corks are ending up in wine. The technology exists to screen each and every cork but the process is extremely expensive, an option some wealthy wineries opt for so they can guarantee none of their wine ends up corked.
Champagne corks are made up of ground up cork
Corks for champagne bottles are made by gluing ground up pieces of cork together, but the final piece, the part which has contact with the wine, is a pure slice of cork.
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