The success of cork lies in a complex structure, which is unique in nature and that technology hasn’t yet been able to replicate. Each natural cork stopper is made up of around 800 million tiny cells of suberin - which make all the difference. When compressed, they constantly try to return to their original shape and size, thus adapting to the bottleneck and maintaining a tight seal. Since they are filled with an air-like gas, they allow a tiny amount of oxygen to permeate the bottle after it has been sealed.
This characteristic is vital, because oxygen is one of the most important factors in the development of the bottled wine. In addition, cork protects the wine against temperature variations and prevents it from deteriorating over time. The discovery of a collection of 168 champagne bottles in perfect condition, shipwrecked around two hundred years ago in the Baltic Sea, bears witness to the cork stopper's unique ability to preserve wines and champagnes all over the world.
The majority prefer cork
Cork is the preferred choice by the world's best winemakers. And not just by them – 70% of the wine industry prefers the cork stopper, and in the case of consumers, that preference takes on an even greater proportion. Surveys conducted in various countries confirm that cork stoppers are the closure of choice worldwide. The USA, France, Italy and Spain are some of the most faithful to cork, which influence emerging markets, such as China and Russia.
Consumers associate cork with high or very high quality wines and this perception is reflected in the success of the brands. That was what A.C. Nielsen in the USA found: between 2010 and 2012, wines sealed with a cork stopper showed an increase of 26% in sales and 23% in revenue - against a decline of 12% and 7% respectively, for artificial closures. Add the recognised premium value of the cork stopper which, according to that consultant, can reach $1,10 dollars a bottle in the USA.
In addition to the beneficial interaction of cork with wine, nature and the environmental benefits associated with the cork stopper are distinctive characteristics for choosing this natural closure. Cork stoppers are the only closure with a positive impact, they contribute to capturing CO2 in the atmosphere and make possible a primary economic activity. Wine cellars which use cork stoppers may reduce their CO2emissions from their bottles by between 18% and 40%, which means that they shall be improving their environmental performance and contributing to preserving a unique ecosystem in the world, the cork forest.