The origins of the use of cork are lost in time, leveraged by different civilizations who, thousands of years before Christ, discovered the potential of this raw material from the cork oak (Quercus Suber L.) and used it in endless everyday objects. The proof lies in the countless remnants found in some Mediterranean countries.
"For a material which has been used since antiquity, the chameleon-like versatility of cork is astonishing (...) thanks to its capacity for renewal and for adapting to new technological demands."
The Chemistry of Cork, National Geographic
Ancient Egyptians used cork as a nautical utensil, in the art of fishing and in domestic applications. Ahead of their time, they also chose it for the soles of their sandals, never imagining that the trend would feature in the fashion shows of the most prestigious fashion houses of the 21st century.
Roman Civilisation continued to explore the virtues of cork in footwear, such as insoles, but broadened its horizons: it was used as a closure for amphorae to transport liquids and in their houses, to cover roofs and ceilings. Cork's thermal ability could already be seen at the time, which would later be confirmed by medieval monks, who used it to cover the walls of their quarters, for protection against the cold in the winter and the heat in the summer.
At the time of the Great Navigations, this raw material was applied in the Portuguese caravels which set sail to discover new worlds. In the recent past it was also used in military equipment in World War II.
Despite a multitude of uses, cork has always been very closely connected to wine. Although there are records of amphorae sealed with cork in the 3rd century B.C. which contained wine in good condition, the major revolution in the wine industry only took place in the 17th century, with Dom Pérignon.
The French monk, who would become famous for his champagne, sought an alternative to the stoppers used at the time - wood wrapped in hemp soaked in olive oil -, which did not provide an effective seal, were dubious in the preservation of the wine and always popping out. The solution was cork. This choice fostered the growth of the wine and cork industries which have evolved together over hundreds of years. Nowadays, the cork stopper protects the best wines, from centenary wines to the most recent.
The potential of cork continues to be recognised and, in a world where innovation and ecology now go hand in hand, this material arouses the interest of an increasing number of sectors. Thus, one of the most ancient products in permanent use by Humanity, continues to give life to new products and applications.