• Cork and Wine

Cork and Wine Inseparable by Nature

Wine is life. Cork expands it. Noble and magical, cork and wine interact in a symbiotic relationship that has developed over the centuries. The organic features of cork make it an incomparable closure, vital to the aging process of wines and the development of their innate qualities. Every time a bottle is opened, an unbreakable bond between winemaker, wine, and consumer is created. Inside a bottle sealed with cork, a real journey starts for the wine.

It’s a binomial relationship that started thousands of years ago and was only interrupted during medieval times. Archeologists found evidence that the Egyptians used cork, and the Greeks and the Romans too, but it was Dom Pérignon, a Benedictine monk living in 17th-century France, who paved the way for an empire built on the alliance between glass (bottle) and cork (stopper). By observing nature around him, he understood that there had to be a better solution to seal wine than the wooden stoppers used at the time. They were ineffective and obsolete, playing a dubious role in the preservation of wine. So, he changed them, replacing wood by cork. And pop! A whole new world opened up before his eyes.

Raw Material and Industrial Process

Cork vs Artificial Closures

The Perfect Match

Dom Pérignon was a game-changer. He spread an extremely simple, yet incredibly smart, binary solution which 300 years later is still in use. The perfect match: glass bottle and cork stopper. It was the simultaneous development of cork stoppers and wine bottles that made the modern wine industry possible. But what exactly makes cork stoppers so unique? Why is it such a superior sealing solution for wine?

The answer is as intuitive as scientifically proven. And a closer look at this magical cylinder might offer a good start. Each cork stopper is a sophisticated natural valve, made of around 800 million tiny cells that include the key suberin compound, filled with an air-like gas. When compressed, they behave like a cushion and continuously try to return to their original shape and size, thus adapting to the bottleneck and maintaining a tight seal.

“Wine is life. Life bottled and life spread. It’s an intellectual reflection, a dialogue between man and nature. Cork is probably the most magical element. It’s an organic, expansive element. It’s a guardian of treasures and the first confidant of what’s inside. Cork symbolizes naturalness and life expanded in order to close, and ensure closure of the messages hidden inside the bottle”

Josep Roca, Sommelier, El Celler de Can Roca

Wine sealed with cork simply tastes and feels better

While our senses instantly tell us that a wine sealed with cork simply tastes and feels better, science proves it. Research carried out by the University of Bordeaux addressed how cork contributes in a unique way to the development of wine. The cork stopper’s innate qualities - light, easy to compress, impermeable, resistant to moisture and rot, resilient - make it the only sealing solution that truly respects the evolution of wine, preventing it from deteriorating over time.

The mystery how cork stopper interacts with wine

Sometimes, this longevity is beyond imagination. The discovery of a collection of 168 champagne bottles in perfect condition, shipwrecked in the Baltic Sea around 200 years ago, is a striking example of the cork stopper's superior preservation ability.

How the cork stopper interacts with wine remained a mystery for long, giving birth to some deep-rooted myths. One of the most widespread ideas was that cork is "permeable," thus allowing the wine to breathe. This is a wrong conception. According to recent research, after bottling it’s the oxygen impregnated within the cork stopper (and not the air outside the bottle) that circulates and interacts with the wine, enabling it to mature. Ultimately, it's the action of cork on the wine's components that makes it more complex and interesting: phenolic compounds, for instance, are liberated and act on the wine over time.

“We know that there is an exchange between wine and the cork stopper. The cork stopper must be perfect to allow this exchange to happen in the best way possible so that the wine gets better with time. Just as wine, cork stoppers have a story. A life cycle that begins at the cork oak forest, undergoes a technical process and ends in a bottle of wine"

Carole André, Cheval Blanc, Saint Émilion

Cork and wine are two incredible gifts from nature

No matter how far science goes in the knowledge of wine, cork, and the fascinating relationship between the two, some things cannot be explained solely by rational terms. Emotion comes into play. Intuition has a word to say. Memories, hopes and feelings reveal themselves. While it’s clear that the world’s finest wines have always agreed on the superiority of cork and have always used cork stoppers, the unmistakable appeal of cork to consumers, including Millennials who are now just starting to discover wine, is new to the equation. But recent research consistently highlights the added value of cork stoppers in the wine industry and their huge influence on consumer perception. On a global scale, from France to China, and the US to Argentina, the cork stopper is associated with good or excellent quality wines.

Moreover, several studies show that both consumers and winemakers increasingly choose cork because it's a natural, sustainable product. Premium and eco-friendly, cork has the best of two worlds.

Cork and wine are two incredible gifts from nature that have been united for centuries. They've grown together and given meaning to each other. Only in a bottle sealed with cork can a wine reach full splendor, its highest expression.

Cork and wine are two incredible gifts from nature that have been united for centuries. They've grown together and given meaning to each other. Only in a bottle sealed with cork can a wine reach full splendor, its highest expression.

NDtech and NDtech Sparkling

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