Choosing wines keeps getting more complicated. Not only do we have to
worry about the quality of what gets in our glass and then our gullets,
but now we’re told we should drink “green” or “natural” wines,
according to how many or how few pesticides were used in the vineyard.
We’re urged to support winemakers who parade around the vineyard in dark
robes on the night of the autumn solstice, chanting weird incantations
and burying manure-filled cow horns among the vinerows.
Favoring organic or biodynamic wines may make sense – there’s plenty
of reasons to do so, including, arguably, quality of the wines. But now
we’re urged to think about more than quality. Recently, I joined the
collective wail against heavy bottles. Some wines claim to be “carbon
neutral,” because savings in emissions at the winery through solar power
or other eco-friendly practices offset the greenhouse gases produced in
getting those wines to market. Boxed wines are having a renewed vogue,
in part because they take less space in landfills than bottles and cost a
lot less to produce and transport.
we care about all this, then here’s another thing to consider: Cork.
Somewhat out of vogue because of the market’s infatuation with screw
caps, the cork industry is beginning to argue not only that it has the
cork taint problem under control, but that its stoppers are the only
natural ones available. Plastic “corks” are, well, plastic. Screw caps
use a petroleum-based seal, as do the glass stoppers sometimes used in
Germany and Austria.
Cork forests absorb CO2, and cork stoppers
themselves even retain a small measure of that greenhouse gas. Used cork
stoppers can be recycled into other products, such as flooring,
automotive gaskets – even the nose cone on the space shuttle or your
Will avoiding screw caps help fight global warming? Well, we’re
bordering on ridiculous hyperbole with that claim. But if we shun
bottled water, and we no longer use plastic grocery bags, and we choose
one product over another because it features the recycling symbol ….
Well, then it’s something to think about.