Friday, February 23, 2007

Popping the Cork


Beth and I spent this past weekend in the Brandywine Valley of southeastern PA. Aside from being home to Longwood Gardens, the Brandywine Valley also houses 6 wineries. Of course, these wineries all offered tastings which we gladly took part in. After our visit to Napa Valley last year, Beth and I have really enjoyed wine tastings, but not in the snooty, slurpy, swish-and-spit way. We just like tasting the wines and talking with the people there. I can't claim to taste notes of oak, chocolate, red cherries, or any of that other stuff, but I know when something tastes good and doesn't. We came home with 13 bottles of wine including a fantastic strawberry wine.

So, you would understand my trepidation when I found this Audubon Magazine article about synthetic corks linked from Earth, Wind, and Water. Only one bottle of wine that we bought has a wooden cork. The others are all synthetic. We don't usually buy high-priced wine and most of the under $20 bottles seem to be stopped with petroleum-based stoppers. Ugh. The problem is that wooden stoppers make up 70% of business for Portuguese cork growers. Their cork-oak habitat houses many species of bird and mammal including threatened species like Bonelli's Eagle, Iberian Lynx, and Barbary Deer. This habitat is protected by the government due to its monetary benefit, but what will the result be if cork is no longer profitable? I plan to send this article to each of these wineries in hope that it will make some difference.

8 comments:

P. Ollig said...

You know, so many people are totally unaware of the environmental benefits of wineries using wood corks. I'm so glad that you are helping to promote what is one of the most environmentally beneficial agricultural practices in the world.

Beth said...

Excellent post, Honey. I never would have guessed that corks have such an impact on the environment. Hopefully wine makers will see your article and others like it and make a change. Besides, I like the traditional wooden cork. By the way, nice picture. A good photographer must have taken that one. ;)

Susan Gets Native said...

We aren't big wine buyers, but you can bet your socks I will be looking at the stopper the next time a bottle goes into my cart.
I like the squeaky sound a real cork makes when you pull it from the bottle.

Patrick Belardo said...

Paul, until I read this article, I had no clue about this cork business myself. It's been a real eye-opener.

Susan, I agree on the squeaky cork comment. Plus, it just gives it a more special feeling than plucking out a plastic cork.

Keith Dowling said...

You should go onto YouTube and look up the SNL skit on "Cork Soaking" to see how they prepare corks for use in wine bottles.
Oh, but don't do it from work.
-Keith
krd1969@yahoo.com

Patrick Belardo said...

Keith, Oh man, I can't find it. Do you have a link?

Keith Dowling said...

hi, sorry, it's on another site:
http://www.yikers.com/video_cork_soaking_snl_skit.html

Patrick Belardo said...

hahaha, I love it. Thanks Keith. It reminds me of a sketch from around the same SNL era about the stories of "Colonel Angus". I think Christopher Walken, always great on SNL, was in that one.