Lower Demand for Wine Corks Threatens Endangered Animals

Lower Demand for Wine Corks Threatens Endangered Animals

Food & Drink

Lower Demand for Wine Corks Threatens Endangered Animals

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By Cari Martens

You may have noticed that many fine wines are starting to replace the traditional cork with rubber stoppers and screw caps. Strangely enough, this wine industry development threatens certain rare and endangered animal species.

Cork oak forests, which support such rare species as the Iberian Lynx, black storks and booted eagles, are already disappearing in many areas of Europe. Farmers, responding to the decreasing demand, are ripping up cork trees that have been on their land for hundreds of years—trees that take 45 years to mature. Each tree produces enough cork in each harvest to cap 4,000 wine bottles.

Some wine companies have moved away from cork, contending that the substance sometimes becomes contaminated with Trichloroanisol, which can degrade the taste of the wine.

Reporting for telegraph.co.uk, Richard Gray writes that the land where cork oaks grow is of poor quality without the trees, and often turns to desert. A study by conservation charity The World Wildlife Fund estimated that up to 75 percent of the Mediterranean’s cork forests could be lost within 10 years if the trend toward plastic stoppers and screw tops continues.


p(left caption). Iberian Lynx

“If the farmers cannot sell the cork the trees produce, then these unique habitats will be lost along with many of the species they support,” says Paul Morrison, assistant producer of a BBC Natural World documentary on the subject, who is quoted in the story by Gray.

Next time you purchase a bottle of wine, you may want to consider not only the region, winery, vintage year and varietal…you may also want to check the closure.

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