That natural cork in your wine bottle? It does more than just preserve the quality and character of your wine. It preserves old-growth cork oak forests and a centuries-long way of life through sustainable harvesting of the bark. And it helps preserve the planet by naturally absorbing carbon, the greenhouse gas responsible for climate change.
Artificial plastic stoppers or screw caps on the other hand consume fossil fuels, and use at least five times more energy per ton to produce, before millions of them end up in our landfills and oceans. It may seem like a little thing, but demanding natural cork is something we can all do.
Good for Wine
The real cork stopper is good for wine because it has unique innate qualities, which interact beneficially with wine. It contributes to developing its character, gives it authenticity and brings it value. Cork, which is just as natural and noble as wine, benefits from the production of wine and reciprocates with premium performance stoppers. Both industries have grown together over the centuries.
Naturally Sequesters Carbon
“In comparison to the aluminium and plastic closures, the cork stopper is the best alternative in terms of non-renewable energy consumption, emission of greenhouse effect gases, contribution to atmospheric acidification, contribution to the formation of photochemical oxidants, contribution to the eutrophication of surface water and total production of solid waste.” 1
“The capture of carbon by the cork oaks during the photosynthesis process results in plant growth and transforms atmospheric CO2 into O2 and, in the case of organic matter, into cellulose. For this reason, the forest is considered to be an important carbon sink.” 2
- Source: PWC-Evaluation of the Environmental Impacts of Cork Stoppers Versus Aluminum and Plastic Closures, pg. 56
- Source: PWC-Evaluation of the Environmental Impacts of Cork Stoppers Versus Aluminum and Plastic Closures, pg. 14
“Ever since the French monk Dom Perignon experimented with a new stopper for his sparkling wine in the early 1600s, cork stoppers have underpinned the global wine industry.” 1
“In the Wine Business Monthly 2009 Closure Report, wineries rated closures by perceived consumer acceptance. Natural cork received the highest marks. A more direct study of consumer perception was conducted by the Oregon State University Food Innovation Center1. It found that consumers perceived wine finished with cork to have higher quality and price than the same wine finished in alternative closures.”
“In a study conducted by Tragon2, consumers were asked to rate the appropriateness of different closures for a variety of occasions … when consumers were asked the general question “how likely would you be to purchase wines with this closure”? Natural cork was selected by a 4:1 margin over alternatives.” 2
- Source: WWF-Cork Screwed? Environmental and economic impacts of the cork stopper, pg. 18
- Source: CQC, Timeless partner to wine, pg. 1
Good for the Environment
Cork oak forests, referred to as montados, are the lungs of the environment, the economy and the society of Mediterranean countries. They have such an important role for nature and people that they are protected by law. In Portugal, where there is the largest cork oak forest area in the world, the cork oak is the national tree and has been protected by law since the 13th century. A growing awareness of the value of the ecosystem of the cork oak forest has led to important initiatives in reforestation and the systematisation of good practices. It is a way of ensuring the future, without forgetting the old saying: “Whoever cares for their grandchildren, plants a cork oak”.
Good for Wineries
Associated with Higher Quality Wine
- Wine Drinkers in the U.S., Germany, and Australia Associate Wines with a Natural Cork Stopper to be of Significantly Higher Quality than Those with a Screw CapNAPA, Calif., March 9th, 2014 – According to a recent market research study on wine closures conducted by Tragon Corporation , 93 percent of U.S. wine consumers associate natural cork with higher quality wines, while only 11 percent of U.S. wine consumers believe wines sealed with a screw cap to be of high quality. Similar results were found in both Germany and Australia. In Germany, 93 percent of wine drinkers and 85 percent in Australia associate natural cork with higher quality wines. Participants in both the U.S. and Germany went even a step further to indicate that natural cork is a positive influence on their purchase decisions whereas screw caps and synthetic closures can deter a purchase.The 2013 web-based survey was administered to 1,550 consumers throughout the U.S., Australia and Germany. Participants included red and white wine drinkers, 80 percent of which consume wine at least once a week. The survey was comprised of 35 percent males and 65 percent females, who are the primary shoppers for their households and range in age from 25-65. The independent study was commissioned by Tragon with research partners SAM in Germany and AWRI in Australia. View the full report here.Commenting on the results, Rebecca Bleibaum, Tragon’s VP, Sensory and Consumer Insights, stated, “Consumers in all markets tested – U.S., Australia, and Germany — perceive wines with a natural cork closure to be of significantly higher quality than those with a screw cap.”
- Additional findings from the study include:
- Wines with a cork stopper are perceived as being appropriate for all occasions, from an informal dinner at home to dining out for a special occasion.
- Wines sealed with screw caps, on the other hand, especially in the U.S., are generally viewed as being of lower or moderate quality, and are viewed as less appropriate for a special occasion or dinner at a restaurant.
- 61 percent of the U.S respondents indicated that given the choice they would prefer to purchase wine with natural cork stoppers, while only three percent said they prefer to purchase wine with a screw cap.
- In Germany, 72 percent of the respondents indicated that screw caps convey moderate to low quality.
“The data shown for the U.S., Australia and German markets has consistent, and perhaps even unexpected, positive news for wineries that feature natural cork stoppers,” commented Peter Weber, Executive Director of the Cork Quality Council. “Since consumers overwhelmingly associate cork with high quality wines, having a cork stopper instead of a screw cap can make a critical difference when it comes to selling to the all-crucial, premium segment of the market that successful wineries around the world are targeting. It certainly makes sense for these wineries to promote their use of cork.”
Increase In Sales Volume and Value
Wines Closed With Cork Saw Increase in Sales Volume and Value
- WineBusiness.com | November 11, 2014 corkqc.com January 2017
- Nielsen released sales figures for the top 100 premium wine brands based solely on closure type, showing significant improvements for wines sealed with a natural cork.
Since the start of 2010, the volume market share for wines closed with cork rose 47 Alternative closures also saw an increase, but of 8 percent in the same time period. While the numbers do not necessarily mean that consumers are making their purchase based solely on closure type, the data does show an improvement in sales of wine closed with cork.
When breaking out case sales by closure type and top brands, those finished with a natural cork have seen significant improvement in volume moved.
For the most recent Nielsen period, the top 10 brands finished in natural cork performed better in both volume movement and sales compared with the top brands closed with synthetic. Eight of the top brands closed with cork saw an increase in case sales, averaging a 1 percent increase in volume and a 9.4 percent increase in value. For synthetically sealed brands, five of the top 10 brands saw a decrease in volume, however the average across all 10 remained an increase of 1.2 percent.
For the four-week period ending December 31, 2016 Cork finished wines topped all price segments, with particularly strong performance in all price segments over $10. Screwcaps now out-perform synthetics in the price points over $15, but remain a small fraction of wines priced over $20.00