Do you ever find yourself absentmindedly twirling a cork in your hand, and wonder briefly where it comes from? Happens to me all the time, so this week I decided to do some research.
Here are my findings.
Interestingly, cork comes from bark tissue that is harvested from the Cork Oak (Shoulda seen that one coming!). After the tree reaches maturity, which is roughly 25 years old, they are harvested every 10 years. This does no damage to the oak and the cork simply grows back.
After they are peeled and stacked, the sheets of cork are shipped off to the factory, where they are boiled in water to soften them, and clean them. Back in the day, these pits were dirty and murky, resulting in damaged wine.
As a result of the boiling the cork is flatter and easier to work with. It is then divided into different categories; the highest quality cork gets punched out by hand, while machines punch out the lesser quality sheets.
What ever remains after the corks are punched, are ground up to make granules that can then be glued together to make agglomerate cork.
I get the feeling you’ll be admiring your corks a little more closely in the future!