Unintended consequences - cork and wine

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Jen and I were at a wine tasting today. Our distributors host these every few months to showcase new wines and to keep us store owners happy and thinking good thoughts about their wines. We were talking to another taster who commented on the prevalence of screw-top caps on wine bottles. His observation was an interesting one -- 10% of corked wine goes bad due to cork failure letting in Oxygen. The synthetic corks and screw tops and tetra-pak containers eliminate this. Market forces then dictate that as cork becomes less profitable, cork trees are taken out and the land is used for other types of agriculture or developed residentially - vacation housing. The unintended consequence of this is that the cork forest is home to several endangered species -- the Iberian lynx (150 remaining, 30 breeding females), the Iberian imperial eagle and the Barbary deer. Wine is not entirely to blame -- cork is a material with a lot of uses -- from Put A Cork In It:
The first thought that pops into most people�s heads when thinking about cork is its distinctive use as the stoppers on wine bottles. This earth friendly material actually has many other uses other than keeping liquid contained. Because of it�s versatile characteristics, it has also become a more popular option for flooring. Cork comes in a rainbow of colors ranging from alabaster to scarlet, and has many benefits. Cork floors have been used for commercial as well as private use. From simple to high class, cork is sure to give your house a comfortable feel. It can easily be cut to fashion floor mosaics, borders, and many other designs. You can even install cork flooring yourself by gluing it to the floor. If you are interested in ordering cork flooring, many websites make it readily available.

Because of the cork�s structure, it has many benefits. Not only is it comfortably cushy; it also reduces heat-loss, repels insects and mold, and prevents rotting thanks to its naturally waxy substance called suberin. The main function of suberin is to prevent water from penetrating the cork tissue. Cork can actually be submerged in water for extended periods of time without having any water damage. Suberin also makes cork fire resistant.
And Uses and Harvesting of Cork:
One of the main use of cork is in low temperature insulation, the insulation is used in water coolers, around the pipes of mechanical refrigerating systems, cold storage warehouses. When using cork for insulation it is first grounded up, pressed into molds and baked with its own natural resins into slabs of the desired shape.

Cork sheets or cork tiles are used in soundproofing and as floor coverings.

Cork is used to make stoppers for bottles and barrels. Cork composition is used to line metal caps for sealing bottles.

Other product that also uses corks are floats, innersoles for shoes, gasket, washers, fishing poles grips, bulletin boards, cork paper for cigarette tips.
An interesting cause and effect. Cork is enjoying a closer look by designers -- people are even producing a cork fiber so for its losses in the wine industry, new uses are cropping up.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on May 12, 2008 11:18 AM.

Vaccinations in the news - England and East Bay, California was the previous entry in this blog.

Unintended consequences - ethanol and food availability is the next entry in this blog.

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