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Travel companion of the wine bottle

Cork has long since raised interest throughout history. Theophrastus writes that cork stoppers were being produced in Italy 300 years before Christ and Pliny the Elder mentions, in his Natural History, the ability of cork-oak to renew the cork tissue as it is removed, using the examples of cork for buoys, fishing nets, women’s shoes and for roofing houses. Horace, in one of his Odes, refers to the use of cork with resin to close the amphorae of wine.
In contrast, during the Middle Ages it was a neglected material whose use was limited to firewood, tannin and cattle feed.

In 1634 the Englishman Kenelm Digby revolutionizes the industry of wine recipients with the invention of the glass bottle. This diplomat is considered to be the inventor of the modern glass wine bottle characterized by its neck reinforced with a seal. It is due to the mastering of their new and powerful coal-fired ovens that the English were the first able to produce resistant glass wine bottles.

Decades later a second revolution takes place: the development of cork stoppers. Cork, elastic and impermeable, ensures the bottle is watertight and allows the wine to breathe. The reinforced neck allows the winemaker to hammer in the cork stopper without shattering the bottle neck. Wine, bottle and stopper are, since the XVII century, three inseparable elements. Already, William Shakespeare in his play “As You Like It”, produced in 1598, refers to cork stoppers: “I prithee, take the cork out of thy mouth that I may drink thy tidings”.

The first cork-screw dates from 1720. Since then and to this day, the cork stopper and the glass wine bottle are undisputable travel companions.
The stopper, by preventing the wine from oxidising, allows it to age slowly until it develops its full potential. The wine prevents the cork from drying out and losing its elasticity without which it could not get out of the bottle.

But the stopper must also offer other indispensible benefits for its industrial advantage:

  • > To cork the bottle quickly;
  • > Industrial mechanisation;
  • > Removal of the stopper must be simple and easy for the consumer.

The fact that cork gathers all these characteristics is undoubtedly the reason why it has been used for centuries to cork wine bottles . In this way, the stopper is the product par excellence of the cork sector. This simple object is, since the XVIII century, the driving force of a whole industry.