Why corks? Why a cork blog?

I like wine. I really like wine a lot. But some aspects of the industry nark me. The whole cursed cork vs plastic vs stelvin (=screwcap) debate narks me more than most. It comes down to this. There are problems with traditional cork closures. But the advantages of tackling these problems have been ignored in favour of blunderingly obvious alternatives which I think show the worst sort of short term outlook.

The dumb alternative, plastics, are just so much misapplied quick technofix. Plastic is wasted oil, and then it becomes landfill. Cork will rot (eventually. Judging by my compost heap, it's decades rather than months) or be fuel (woohoo, burn things, fun!). Plastics are canonical late capitalism. Any costs which are external to your own operation can be ignored. Plastics are dumb.

Stelvins, on the other hand, are smart. They do a better job than cork of keeping Drink-Youngest-Available whites fresh. Stelvins are being developed, so I hear, which allow a controlled rate of air flow into a bottle, so that wines can be aged just as if they were under cork. Soon there may be a stelvin available for every kind of wine, from muscadet to premier cru claret. Which is not to say that stelvins don't have disadvantages. A case of stelvin-sealed wine which is stacked upside down can easily spring a few dribblesome bottles.

But on the whole, stelvins are smart.

There are disadvantages to corks. There is cork taint, or TCA. This is perhaps less of a problem than some noisy writers might lead you to think, but it has been a problem. (Lately tho it seems the cork industry has come up with some prospective solutions to this problem.) Random bottle variation is another problem. But instead of saying, there is a problem with the raw material for corks, how can we deal with that, people have set about replacing cork, giving no thought to any external consequences. The biggest cost of non-cork closures is loss of a unique, fragile habitat and extinction of species. This is without doubt a bad thing. Biodiversity, genetic diversity, whatever you call it, we need it if the planet is going to remain livable.

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