Cork is the best kept secret of wine and considered one of the protagonists in wine. His role is so important that he is considered the guardian of the flavor we enjoy in each cup.
It is obtained from the outer bark of the Cork oak tree (Quercus suber). The process consists of extracting the bark of the cork oak cut with an ax and joining the vertical cracks of the cork.
Each year a new peridermis grows, formed by rings that grow from the inside out of the tree. It protects you against extreme weather conditions or fires and has a great capacity for regeneration every time it is removed from the tree.
The first take out of the tree is called “born cork”, it is when the tree is between 30 and 60 years old and is only used for the elaboration of decorative elements and thermoacoustic insulations.
After the age of nine and fourteen, the second uncorking is produced, from which a material called “secondary cork” is obtained, which has a less stiff regular structure but is not yet valid for the production of stoppers.
When the tree is between 40 and 50 years old, it is possible to obtain the third one called “amadia or breeding cork”, that is when the cork already has the appropriate properties for the production of quality plugs. The cork oak will provide cork every 9 and 14 years. Its exploitation will last an average of 150 years, which is equivalent to about 14-15 bags of cork.
The cork has been inseparable companion of the wine by two attractive own of the material: porosity and impermeability.
Given its elasticity it fulfills a double function:
- Wine microoxygenation. Preserves and prevents oxygen from entering the bottle or that bacteria and mold end up in our glass.
- Protects the inside of the bottle from excess or defect of outside environmental humidity. Its excess or defect is one of the signs that a cork will give us of a bad conservation: while its lack will dry the cork, the excess will cause the appearance of fungi on its surface.
The cork allows a milligram of oxygen to enter the bottle in a period of one year. Although it seems minimal, it is a factor to consider, because the bottles mostly rest more than two or three years in the cellar before being released for consumption.
This amount of oxygen is enough to help integrate sulfites, a compound that many producers add to wine to protect it from oxidation.
Now that you know the importance of cork in the conservation of wine it is important that you store your bottles in the best way.