To Cork or Not to Cork…a tale of several closures…natural cork, synthetic, screwcap and Diam…

I like corks, I enjoy the romance: Cork oaks grow in Portugal; the cork makers strip the living bark from the tree every 9 years, but wine cork grade bark requires at least 50 years of growth. (The first harvest at 40 years is too rough and irregular to use for wine closures.) The bark then ages a season, the producer then grades and sorts the raw corks once, twice or many more times before they reach their final destination. Acres of forest and thousands of people owe their life and livelihoods to this industry. I enjoy the ritual involved to remove the cork; a slight bit of skill, a specialized tool, (and I love collections of cork pullers…), a reminder that gratification delayed is gratification enhanced, an enforced pause that engenders respect for the time in bottle, a nod to times past, a moment’s anticipation for the pleasure to come.

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More about TCA, or Tri-choloroanisole

TCA forms when mold encounters chlorine. Some think the mold converts chlorine to TCA to render it harmless; free chlorine is a very reactive and toxic compound. TCA does not pose any health risks, it simply smells bad, but it smells bad at very low levels; most people can detect a difference between a spiked and control sample at 2 parts per trillion, (1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000 = 1ppt.) At 6-7 ppt most people can identify TCA as a musty smell.

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