It all starts with a tree in a forest. Cork Oaks can be harvested every 9 years. The harvest doesn’t harm the tree and the cork grows back. Most Cork Oaks are grown in Portugal or Spain. The harvested bark is very thin and many times pieces of the bark are combined together to make the cork. Let’s review how. The first step is boiling to soften the planks and also to clean them. The boiled planks are flatter and easier to work with. Then the planks are graded and cut into workable pieces. The thicker pieces will be used to ‘punch’ out natural corks. The thinner pieces will be used to make technical corks – those that are made up of many small pieces of cork.
Some cork planks are too think to have natural corks punched from them. So these are sliced into thin strips, which are then used to make discs of natural cork. These are used to make either Champagne corks, or technical corks known as one-plus-ones: a cylinder of agglomerate cork with a disc of natural cork at each end. These are the discs. They are the portion of the cork in contact with wine (in the case of one-plus-ones) or Champagne. These pictures were taken at Amorim's plant in Coruche, Portugal. The Amorim one-plus-one is called the Twin Top. First produced in the mid-1990s, it has been hugely successful, providing a good quality cork at an attractive price. The agglomerate portion of the cork is made up of what would otherwise be waste cork, ground up into 5-8 mm granules. These granules are then cleaned using a steam process, which removes about 80% of any TCA present. The granules are combined with polyurethane food-grade glue in an extrusion process, to make rods of cork. These are then chopped to size, and a disc of cork is applied to each end.
Yes, however it is much better to recycle corks instead of compost. Imagine your cork being reborn as an “agglomerated” wine cork, floor tile, even Birkenstocks! (It’s ok to cross your fingers for it to become another wine stopper, or to be chopped up into tile, especially when the pattern is retro-cute.) Corks also make a great item for crafting and can be used to make cork boards, candle holders, trivets and even Christmas ornaments. I collect corks from all over and send them to recork – this amazing organization that takes your corks to make things yoga blocks. Check them out here:.
Not in my house!
It depends on the alcohol content, but most wine will freeze at about 15 to 20 degrees Farhenheit and it would need to stay at that temperature for a while before it freezes solidly. Alcohol's freezing point is lower than water, but as the water content of the wine begins to freeze, it will begin to expand, and this will put a lot of pressure on the cork, which might begin to be pushed out, and on the bottle, which might crack. So, Don't freeze your wine bottles!