I love living in the modern era. I love driving my car. I enjoy picking up my iPhone and looking at the grandkids’ photos that my children sent to me or that I’ve been able to download from Facebook. I love my vacuum cleaner. I am appreciative of the fact that I have indoor plumbing and I can find recipes from all over the world on the Internet. You get the drift.
I especially enjoy picking up a glass bottle, extracting the cork, and sitting down to enjoy the beautiful wine inside. There’s something about that ritual that’s special. It warms, it soothes, it calms, and it connects at an inner place that just can’t be described.
That soothing, relaxing – dare I say romantic? – ritual is set off-key by the cracking sound of a screwcap or the neon colors of a synthetic “cork.” Forget bag-in-box or new paper “bottles.” These items fulfill the function of holding wine until you drink it. No ritual – just crack and drink. And the paper bottle is an interesting gimmick. I happen to like the wines of the company that’s pioneering this, but really? It’s pretty silly in my opinion. It’s a bottle-shaped box wine. What.
During the last few months of doing this research project, I have become what I call The Reluctant Environmentalist. It has taken this project to get me to see how artificial and unnatural items have been displacing natural ones for years.
In a way, I’ve already known that and have been doing my own small part to help. As my plastic food storage containers wear out, I’ve been replacing them with glass. My living rug is 100% natural – wool and jute. I have a wool fleece mattress cover on my bed because it naturally repels dust mites and bedbugs. I have organic plant food for my lemon trees, vegetables, and herbs, and considering the ongoing state of my questionable green thumb, they are grateful for it. I only use African Black Soap to clean my skin. Most processed food is gone from my pantry, replaced with organic and sustainably grown, farmed, or sourced whenever possible. Baby steps.
Cork trees are indispensable not only to the millions of acres of biodiversity in the Mediterranean, but to the people (an important natural resource), the animals, and to us. These forests – second only to the vast forests of Amazon, Africa, and Indonesia – trap excess Co2 that is generated by modern living. And some of that Co2 is generated during the production of aluminum screwcaps and plastic wine corks.
Even with that, I understand that the cork producers absolutely deserved the backlash that they received. They were sloppy in their processes, in their treatment and bleaching of the cork, and arrogant enough to think that there was no one else out there to challenge their supremacy. So yes, they don’t exactly come out smelling like a rose, not by a long shot. They essentially founded the successful companies that are their competition.
That being said, the ongoing refrain of “corked” wines being caused by corks is old, and it’s time to stop. I’ve heard even the reluctant admission of screwcap advocates state that they don’t encounter “corked” wines they way they used to. Of course not. I’m so tired of seeing the currently stylish attitude of bashing cork, often by people who claim to be environmentally conscious. Reread the articles! Screwcaps and synthetics ain’t green. At all!
Recent articles proclaim that both screwcap and synthetic closure manufacturers are getting closer to figuring out a way that their closures can “breathe” so that wine can satisfactorily age in bottles that are thusly sealed. Really?!? They are dissing cork big time while trying to make their products more like cork.
So, yes, I’m a fan of the modern era. I’m also a fan of using what’s natural, especially when it’s not only healthier (I hate to use that word because I always think of organic kale), sustainable, self-healing, non-polluting, and, yes, traditional.
And by the way, if you’ve had the time and motivation to read the entire series, don’t you feel that the photo I’ve taken of a “sustainably produced” wine somewhat ironic in that it’s sealed with a (petrochemical-based plastic-lined aluminum) screwcap?
Talk to me. Here’s my summary: