Sunday, May 29, 2005

Corks and Corkscrews

I have being doing some research today about corks and corkscrews. I will soon be adding a new product to my line, a bottle stopper and corkscrew gift set, and needed some information to spruce up my packaging and marketing. I'd like to share with you some of that information and the links I found.

Cork has only been used to seal wine since the 17th century ( Cork is harvested sustainably from the cork oak, which has it's bark stripped every nine years. This does no long-term harm to the tree, which typically lives for 150-200 years. Much of the world's supply of cork comes from western Mediterranean countries. describes the whole process of harvesting and making corks.

Sometimes wine goes off due to contact with cork which has been contaminated with mold and chlorine. This creates a chemical known as TCA and the bottle is said to be 'corked'. This has caused considerable debate about the use of cork, and there are many calls for vineyards to consider switching to alternatives. This has created some concern within environmental organistions such as the RSPB, who warn that a large move away from cork might mean destruction of the cork oak forests and the loss of species such as the Iberian lynx, the Spanish imperial eagle and the Bonelli's eagle.

It is not clear exactly when the the corkscrew was invented, but it is believed to have been based on a tool used to clear musket barrels of unspent charges. The traditional corkscrew is a simple helical wire on a wooden handle. Many patents have been filed since then to make cork extraction more effective, and today there are many collectors of corkscrews. The Virtual Corkscrew Museum has many pages of corkscrew pictures.

And finally a few quotations:

"During one of my treks through Afghanistan, we lost our corkscrew. We were compelled to live on food and water for several days."
Cuthbert J. Twillie (W.C.Fields) in My Little Chickadee (1940)

"Here's to the corkscrew - a useful key to unlock the storehouse of wit, the treasury of laughter, the front door of fellowship, and the gate of pleasant folly."

"Bring in the bottled lightning, a clean tumbler, and a corkscrew."
Charles Dickens

Finally, I hope to have these new wine stopper and corkscrew sets ready in the next few weeks, and will get them on the website as soon as I can. I think they are going to be a good seller, making a great gift for wine enthusiasts.

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