Fun With a Wine & Cheese Party

Another fun idea for a party that’s simple and easy is wine and cheese. Think of it as a dinner party with relatively easy prep and clean up. We all enjoy having dinner, in or out, with friends. No one likes to eat alone and sharing time with friends is healthy and enhances relationships… not to mention just plain fun! Most “social drinkers” prefer wine over traditional alcohol cocktails. Want to please everyone… even have some beer available!

Many people consider a dinner party a very time consuming and daunting task and thus don’t have as many of these get togethers. A simple wine and cheese party can create a very relaxed and comfortable atmosphere to enjoy your friends’ company.

Basically, all you need are wine glasses, some small plates, cocktail napkins (paper is fine) and you’re good to go. You don’t need an assortment of wine glasses if you don’t already have ones for red and white wine. Likewise, you don’t need a collection of plates..just some small party plates will do. Napkins… go to your local party store and get some small cocktail napkins in colors/patterns to match the occasion or décor.

If you want to add some flair, use tea lights or small candles for atmosphere and mood setting. Light music adds to the entertaining atmosphere.

Now for the most important part… the wine and cheese!

In its simplest form, you can get your favorite dry red and white wines and a sweet red or white to complete the selection and cover everyone’s tastes and serve them with assorted cheeses like Swiss, brie, cheddar, bleu, Gouda and an Italian favorite. There are also a variety of cheese “spreads” and flavored cream cheeses that can add different flavors and textures. A bunch of fresh grapes adds some additional personality and flavor to the presentation Assorted crackers and crusty bread complete “the meal”. Another option is to add a selection of sliced meats to the cheese board. A small bowl of assorted olives is another nice touch.

Note… with a little careful shopping, you can easily get a nice quality bottle of wine for $10 or less. Also..from my experience… guests will offer to bring a bottle of their favorite wine to share with everyone which adds more variety and personality to the selection.

If you want to get more elaborate… consider pairing the cheese with the complimentary wine. Wine and cheese from the same region tend to go well together but it doesn’t mean you have to serve a French wine with a French cheese or Swiss with Swiss. Do what’s comfortable for you.

Some suggestions…

Camembert with Chenin Blanc or Cabernet
Brie with Merlot, Champagne or a Sweet Sherry
S Roquefort with Tawny Port
Sharp Cheddar with Cabernet, Sauvignon Blanc or Rioja
Italian Cheese with Chianti
Muenster with Beaujolais or Zinfandel
Swiss with Gewurztraminer

I hope I’ve convinced you that a very comfortable and enjoyable get together can be accomplished with just a little effort and not a great expense… and… you won’t have a lot of dirty dishes to clean!

Difference About Wine & Brewing Beer

Brewing has been around for many heaps of years, with the earliest archaeological proof displaying that alcoholic liquids have been made in historic Egypt. The system entails the fermentation of the sugars contained in vegetable merchandise. Even though the simple idea in all alcohol making is comparable, the processing of beers and wines is very specific, resulting in awesome drinks.

Ingredients

The most obvious variations among beer and wine are the components used. Each incorporate water and yeast, but this is wherein the similarity ends. Beer includes malted barley and hops, even though wheat can be used instead of barley. Wine is crafted from pressed grapes. The best distinction in the flavor of wine comes from the style of grapes getting used. Other elements together with seeds and roots can also be added to the brewing aggregate to impart particular flavours.

Processing

As each beverage requires different ingredients, the processing of them is different as well. For beer, the barley is harvested and then soaked to launch the sugars. The hops and yeast are then brought. In wine brewing, the grapes need to be pressed or trodden. Traditionally a huge institution of humans could stand in a wine vat and stomp at the grapes with their bare feet; now, the process is done via gadget. To make white wine, the skins of the grapes are eliminated, however for crimson wine they are left on. After the processing of the components, the mixture is left to cook dinner for numerous hours.

Aging

Another key difference in the brewing of beer and wine us the period of time between creation and consumption. The fermentation technique, throughout which the alcohol is authorized to expand via the yeast’s launch of carbon dioxide and ethanol, varies depending at the climate conditions and elements used. After this, the liquid is bottled or installed casks. Beer then desires to be left for round weeks to mature and permit sediment to settle within the bottom. Wine ought to be left for at the least six months to mature; some wines are left to mature for numerous years.

Storage

These days the general public of casked beer is saved in steel kegs that are extra sanitary and may be reused. Alternatively, its miles saved in glass bottles. Wine is still commonly casked earlier than bottling, so the liquid takes on the flavour of the wooden. Okay is generally utilized in a few wine casks.

Buy Your Wine Direct From the Winery

How wine is sold is subtly changing. Until recent history wine was sold through an arcane system known as Three Tier Distribution that came about when prohibition ended. The winery or brewer or distiller has no choice in how they get their product to market. Gradually however, this is changing as states approve wine being shipped directly from the winery to the consumer.

The 2016 Direct-to-Consumer (DtC) wines sales report has some interesting information. It confirms that wineries are focusing more of their strategies on marketing their wines directly to the consumer. In fact, this method of distribution isn’t just for the smaller wineries; the large wineries are now focusing more attention on this outlet. Greater than 5 million equivalent cases of wine were shipped direct to the consumer and it wasn’t limited to less expensive wines either. Sonoma wineries had the highest grow rate in 2016 of nearly 30%.

Wines and Vines has a 2016 database of 9,069 U.S. wineries that they have divided into 5 categories based upon number of cases produced annually. The largest combined categories are called Limited and Very Small producers, each producing up to 4,999 cases per year. These two categories represent 79% of all wineries shipping direct to consumers, roughly 3,600 wineries in each category. If Small Wineries (totaling 1,570) are added to the prior two categories they represent 96.4% of wineries in the U.S. The take-away from this information is that wineries each producing 49,999 cases of wine and less annually, while selling DtC, have a significant market presence.

The five million cases of wine shipped DtC in 2016 represented a 17% increase over 2015. This was made up of single or multiple bottle shipments. “The value of 2016 shipments rose 18.5 percent over 2015, topping $2 billion for the first time and culminating at $2.33 billion”, as reported by Sovos ShipCompliant/Wines and Vines. The average price of a bottle of wine shipped to the consumer in this format was $38.00; far from the $15.00 per bottle of wine making up the greatest number of bottles shipped. Jon Moramarco, Managing Partner of BW 166 LLC reports that the average bottle of wine sold “off- premise” was $9.29.

This points out that consumers are not shy about buying expensive wine on-line/phone and receiving the wine via FedEx, UPS or contract shipper. With the number of wineries growing at approximately 5% annually, most are in the limited and small producer category, therefore it would appear they are the group most receptive to reaching out directly to customers. With DtC shipment representing 8.7% of domestic wine sales there is plenty of room for growth.

The very large wineries, in 2016, represented 13% of all DtC shipments which was a 183% increase over 2015. However, it appears they did this by reducing the price of their shipped wines. The average price for the wine shipped by the 64 largest wineries (producing >500,000 cases) fell to $16.00 per bottle. Obviously, there is some elasticity in the wine business. There are some exceptions however, some Napa and Sonoma wineries did raise prices and still realized an increase in shipment and therefore values.

The varietals that have seen the greatest increase in shipment volumes since 2011 are: Rosé (+259%), Other White and Other Red (+174% and 172% respectively) and Pinot Gris (+101%). Cabernet Sauvignon and Red Blend wines are still the stellar performers in annual increases in DtC sales. The Red Blends are surprising because they are relatively new for people to try.

In all the good news for direct shipments to almost all states (expect Utah, Kentucky, Alabama, and Mississippi) all regions/states producing wine saw increases. Sonoma County’s 2016 surge is worth noting – “to the tune of $100 million over 2015 – was so impressive that, despite the region representing only 18 percent of the total dollar value of DtC shipments, Sonoma County accounted for 27% of the $363.6 million added to the DtC shipping channel during the year,” as reported by Wines and Vines.

Direct to Consumer, as a channel of distribution is becoming more important to a winery’s success. Yes, technology is an important tool to selling direct, but the ramifications on reducing costs cannot be over stated. This channel allows wineries to respond in real-time to changes in markets, need to promote products; even promoting products geographically. Shipping costs can be less than the discounts required to distributors.

If used correctly, DtC marketing can increase cost effective sales, reduce marketing costs and create brand loyalty by the wineries knowing their customers in more depth.

Is Wine Good For You?

You should not binge on wine. In other words, if you take one or two units of wine on a daily basis, it may give some benefits for your cardiac health. Some people say that red wine is more beneficial than other types of wines. However, this is a controversial topic. Let’s look at some facts and find out if wine is good for you.

Facts and fallacies

Whether you are a man or woman, we suggest that you drink 14 units per week, not more than that. It’s a good idea to spread the drinks over a period of 3 days. So, before you get rid of your wine collection, know that wine, especially the red wine, offers some anti-oxidants like resveratrol and quercetin. These antioxidants help you prevent certain diseases.

The benefits of Red Wine

According to scientists, red wines feature lots of antioxidants and polyphenols. Generally, the darker the liquid, the higher the number of antioxidants. According to a test, the cabernet sauvignon grapes found to have lots of polyphenols.

A professor suggested that the other varieties of red grape had lots of antioxidants, such as petit syrah, syrah, zinfandel and merlot, just to name a few. Aside from this, research studies discovered that white wine also offers some health benefits.

Binge drinking

Alcohol Concerns states that 9 million residents of England consume too much wine. Apart from disturbing your sleep, effecting your judgment and interacting with the meds, higher level of wine consumption can hamper the absorption of nutrients, such as folate. As a result, you are at a higher risk of heat disorders, such as stroke and high blood pressure. This is beside the point whether you are part of a high-risk group or not. If you are in your 20s, binging on wine can result in osteoporosis down the road.

Moreover, drinking too much of wine can cause a negative impact on your brain. As a matter of fact, it can cause a lot of health problems, such as liver diseases, impaired libido, nerve damage, muscle damage and menstrual problems.

In the UK, around 4% of cancer patients get the disease due to drinking too much alcohol. This suggests that people who have a habit of drinking 4 or more units of wine are more prone to mouth, oesophagus, and larynx cancer. However, a doctor at the Danish National Health Institute says that people who drink a moderate amount of wine are less likely to get cancer or coronary diseases.

The takeaway

Based on the research studies and the opinions of doctors, it’s safe to say that wine does offer some health benefits. However, taking too much of it on a routine basis is not a good idea. As a matter of fact, consuming an excessive amount of alcohol on a daily basis can get you in serious trouble. In other words, you may have a lot of health problems, such as cancer. Therefore, you may not want to consume lots of wine on a regular basis.

5 Common Mistakes People Make When Ordering Craft Beer

The world of craft beer is a new and exciting one, with new micro-breweries opening each day across the country. The art of these local, homemade brews is that creativity is key and invention is next. In other words, large corporations have their place in the alcohol market, but local places are starting to take root and a whole new culture of beer is cropping up. If you are new to the scene, worry not, as there really are no hard and fast rules. There are, however, a few guidelines to help you feel more comfortable when ordering your first craft beer. Take a look at the following mistakes to avoid:

1. Failing to ask for samples.

A micro-brewery is going to depend on its patrons enjoying the alcohol. If you purchase one beer and hate it, chances are not great that you will return or speak highly of the establishment. That is why most bartenders are more than happy to dole out samples to the patrons who truly are interested in buying a good drink. So do not be afraid to ask for a sample or two. The general rule of thumb is remain honest with your critiques and keep your sample requests to non-busy times when the bartender can actually pay attention to your palate.

2. Asking the bartender for a recommendation without any explanation.

There is nothing wrong with asking for a recommendation. The problem, however, comes when your request is too broad. For instance, “What do you recommend?” is unfocused and far too broad. Every palate is different and no bartender is going to know exactly what your tastebuds prefer. If you would like to ask for some guidance, then tell your server what it is you like in a beer. Knowing whether you like light or dark beers is a great start. Pale ales is also a good jumping off point. And if you truly do not know, then go back to the samples and be honest about liking the sample. Or not.

3. Not telling the truth about a sample.

Again, refer to point number two. If you are requesting samples in order to determine which craft beer you should order, then you should be honest about whether you enjoyed the sample. If you did not prefer that sample, then do not be afraid to speak up. Tell the bartender as specifically as possible what it was that did not appeal to you. Just remember to be polite.

4. Expecting the brew to be ice-cold.

For many Americans, cold beer is about as good as it gets. And for a hot day at home, it isn’t such a big deal to have a cold one. But alcohol generally tastes better at room temperature. The flavors are able to present themselves without losing carbonation. Craft beers are generally crafted (pardon the pun) by locals who understand the art of brewing. Do not be surprised, then, to find that the beer is served at a room temperature.

5. Refusing to tip.

Finally, craft beer establishments operate like any other bar. Excellent service deserves excellent tips. Show your appreciation for your bartender, particularly if you requested samples and recommendations with an appropriate and classy tip.

Australian White Wine Varieties

When it comes to wine, Australia should not be disregarded, as it’s the 4th largest wine producer and exporter in the world. Approximately 750 million litres of Australian wine ends up on the international market and the local market is also strong. Australians love consuming wine and a massive 530 million litres is consumed each year with white wine being the most popular at 50% followed by red wine at 35%.

Practically, every state of Australia is producing wine with places like South Australia’s Adelaide Hills, Western Australia’s Margaret River and New South Wales’ Hunter Valley regarded as some of the top wine growing regions. All up, Australia has about 60 regions that are entirely designated to growing grapes and making wine, which cover about 160,000 hectares of land, the main regions being located in the southern part, where the air is cooler.

When it comes to grapes and wines varieties, there are quite a few, the following list presenting the most popular types of grapes and the wines these regions produce:

SAUVIGNON BLANC

Sauvignon Blanc is a white grape variety, with a light green skin. Originally, these grapes come from Bordeaux, a region in France, from which it spread all over the world. The climate can influence the flavor of these grapes, which ranges between grassy and exotic notes. The wine made from these grapes is fresh, crisp, and elegant, being the perfect accompaniment for cheese and one of the few wines that can be served with sushi.

VERDELHO

This is another type of white grape variety, which comes from Portugal, being mainly planted in Madeira. It’s known for being richer in sugar in comparison with other white grape types, so the taste of the wine is also be sweeter. In Australia, Verhelho is famous for its honeysuckle and lime flavours, and tends to get an oily texture once it starts aging.

SEMILLON

A type of white grape with a beautiful golden skin, the Semillon is commonly used in France and Australia. This grape variety is well known for the fact that it produces sweet and dry wines, with a citrusy flavor, of lime or green apple.

CHARDONNAY

This is a white variety of grapes that originates from the Burgundy area of France, famous for its wine. Its versatility and flavours, plus its importance to wine making, made the Chardonnay appreciated and cultivated around the world. In warm locations, such as Australia, the body of the Chardonnay wine tends to be rather acidic, with a fruity flavor of pear, plum, or apple.

RIESLING

Riesling is a white grape type originally from Germany. It is highly regarded because it tends to produce very aromatic grapes. Its flavor is rather flowery, almost like a perfume, although in Australia it also gets a citrusy taste, similar to lime.

PINOT GRIS – PINOT GRIGIO

Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio is the white variety of Pinot Noir. The fruits have a grayish-blue color, which explains the name. The wine produced from this type of grape has a variety of colours, ranging from a brilliant gold to a coppery shade, and even a soft shade if pink. It is appreciated for its light body and rather spicy flavor.

Byron Bay Gifts delivers wine gift hampers Australia wide. Our Australian wine varieties are complemented by local gourmet food and packaged in beautiful gift boxes.

Satisfying Wine and Beer Pairings for Lamb

So you want to showcase your culinary skills at the upcoming dinner party you are hosting this weekend with a delectable lamb feast? Be sure you choose the right beer and wines to match the flavors of your dish!

Although both red and wine are great for any American lamb meal, it is important to match the right type to compliment the particular ingredients in the meal you are preparing. As for beer, finding a match is a bit more of a challenge. Once you decide on the recipe you want to prepare, it is helpful to know which batches and bottles to serve with your lamb course. Continue reading for delicious wine and beer pairings perfect for a variety of lamb dishes.

White Wines:

Pinot Gris – Pairs well with Lamb Goat Cheese Salad

Pinot Gris is a light-bodied wine celebrated for its citrusy flavors and crisp, clean finish. These light attributes makes it perfect for lighter lamb dishes.

Sauvignon Blanc – Pairs well with Lamb Roast and Root Vegetables

Sauvignon Blanc is a fresh-tasting, light to medium-bodied wine with a sharp, bold finish. These qualities allows it to pair well with both hearty and light lamb dishes.

Chardonnay – Pairs well with Lamb and Vegetable Stew

Chardonnay is a medium to full-bodied white wine that delivers rich oak and vanilla flavors. This makes it a good match for heartier lamb courses.

Red Wines:

Bordeaux – Pairs well with Leg of Lamb with Rosemary and Garlic

Bordeaux is a combination of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, making it a very easy-to-drink red wine. It pairs well with almost any simple lamb dish.

Pinot Noir – Pairs well with Roasted Rack of Lamb

Pinot Noir offers earthy, subtle flavors ranging from dried cherries, raspberries, and hints of vanilla. This makes it perfect for the most elegant of meals.

Syrah – Pairs well with Grilled Loin Chops

Syrah red wine offers deep, dark flavors. This intensity makes it perfect for a variety of lamb meals, including leg of lamb with rosemary and garlic.

Beers:

Porters – Pairs well with Lamb and Vegetable Pasta

Porters are rich, dark, and malty, often times resembling pure coffee or cacao beans. They also pair well with leg of lamb with rosemary and garlic.

Stouts – Pairs well with Braised Lamb Shank

Stouts are silky and savory, and beautifully compliment the earthy flavors of lamb meat. They also pair well with lighter lamb dishes.

Pale Ales – Pairs well with Roasted Rack of Lamb

Pale ales are terrific choices for a bold flavored lamb dish. They also pair well with grilled lamb loin chops.

Amber Ales – Pairs well with Spicy Lamb Chili

Amber ales have a balanced flavor of fruit and malt. They pair well with spicy and heart lamb recipes.

Get the Skinny on Sulfates and Organic Wines

As a former Science teacher, the topic of sulfates usually comes up in wine conversations. Most people do know what a sulfate is. Sulfates or Sulfur Dioxide, a compound formed from Sulfur and Oxygen, occurs naturally in the fermentation process in very small amounts, 10 – 20 ppm. It is a very small amount

What is ppm?

The following are two common definitions of ppm.

ppm is parts per million and it also can be expressed as milligrams per liter (mg/L). This measurement is the mass of a chemical or contaminate per unit volume of water. Seeing ppm or mg/L on a lab report means the same thing.

Another definition – Just as per cent means out of a hundred, so parts per million or ppm means out of a million. Usually describes the concentration of something in water or soil. One ppm is equivalent to 1 milligram of something per liter of water (mg/l) or 1 milligram of something per kilogram soil (mg/kg).

What do sulfates do to the wine?

1. Act like a vitamin or an aspirin for the wine – an antibacterial to help prevent the wine from turning to vinegar.
2. Prevents sweet wine from re-fermenting in the bottle
3. Prevents Oxygen from tainting the wine as an antioxidant
4. Sulfates can aggravate certain medical conditions, like asthma, So the US requires it to be listed on the bottle, amounts greater than 10 ppm.
5. Desert wines contain the most

Organic Wine

Organic wines contain less than 10 ppm of sulfates are not listed on the label. It is thought that sulfates will cause headaches. Recent research has found that food and drinks that have been aged, such as dry aged meats and red wines, can cause our body to release histamines and create these allergy-type symptoms. To prevent a histamine headache, simply take a histamine blocker or antihistamine prior to having a glass of red wine.

Organic wines are not popular and this is surprising, as organic foods are growing in popularity today. Today wines are being produced from organically grown grapes, but again sulfates are naturally occurring in the vineyard and will be in the wine. In the US any wine made form organically grown grapes without added sulfates is considered “Organic”. In the US you can’t add sulfates to the wine and be considered organic.

Organic wines generally have a poor shelf life and poorer taste, you can not cellar them, as they turn to vinegar quickly. So don’t store organic wine for future use. If you want to drink green, look for organically grown grapes and a sulfate content no grater that 100 ppm.

Bio-dynamics

The Bio-dynamic concept is based on the fact that everything in the universe is interconnected and gives off a reasonable “vibe”. Bio-dynamic viticulture is the practice of balancing the resonance between vine, man, Earth, and stars. It is a Holistic view of agriculture. This holistic homeopathic concept predates the organic movement, and was founded in the 1920’s by Austrian Randolph Steiner. The process of Bio-dynamics occurs in the vineyard and not part of the winemaking process.

Wine Accessories for Gifts

So, for a gift you want to purchase a bottle of wine. Did you know that the popularity of wine is widespread? Getting a bottle of wine and putting it into a brown gift bag is cheesy. Your gift is for someone special and not some ordinary person. A true wine lover not only loves to drink it, but share it with special people. Your gift should come with one or two accessories making it personable and attractive to the recipient of your gift.

The wine bag or tote will make your gift appealing to that special friend. It makes your bottle of wine, even if it is empty, special and something to be kept. Wine bags and totes come in a variety of sizes, colors, and styles. They are available in wine stores or local shops, even grocery and drug stores. If you are handy with a needle and thread or know someone who is, you can make them yourself with some beautiful fabric, glue and ribbon. You can also look for unique shops, vintage, antiques, even at Goodwill Stores.

Depending on how well you know the recipient, a corkscrew is required. Make sure you pair your bottle of wine with a corkscrew, what type depends on your budget: and ordinary or a stylish one.

There is nothing more enjoyable than sipping wine from a wine goblet or glass. However did you know that their sizes are not just for the sake of style and that the have certain purposes? Tall wine goblets are better paired with red wines, because once you pour it into a tall wine goblet the aroma and flavors of the wine emerge out of the goblet just in time for drinking: thus holding its original taste. Red wines are bolder and bigger in taste so red wine goblets are larger.

On the other hand if you are buying a white wine choose the short goblet, its bowl is more U shape and upright than that of be the red wine goblet allowing the aromas to be released while also maintaining a cooler temperature. The white wine goblet style that’s best for younger whites has a slightly larger opening directing the wine to the tip and sides of the tongue to taste it sweetness. The goblet for more mature white wines will be straighter and taller to dispense the wine to the back and sides of the tongue to taste its bolder flavors.

Why not help your recipient start their collection of wine (that’s if the have not already)? Why not give that person a wine rack with the bottle of wine? You can choose between a stainless wine rack or wooden, with choosing from contemporary to rustic. There are so many different designs of wine racks to be found. Depending on the taste of your friend whether their style is an old classic look or a modern touch, you have a large range to choose from. There are a few racks that are even made for storing wine inside the refrigerator. Wine bottles have to be kept and stored with utmost care. Wine racks old the bottles in contact with the cork, thereby preventing any loss of taste or smell of delicate liquids.

Corks Can Live Long After the Wine Is Gone

Being an ecologically minded consumer just isn’t about the vineyard. It seems that the wine industry is betting on consumers wanting and appreciating grapes grown in a prescribed manner that allows for designations such as: sustainable, Biodynamic, green, organic or natural.

As if grapes aren’t the only component of winemaking to come under the long arm of the “wine police”, the winery gets special attention in such things as their use of renewable energy (wind and solar), recycling water, fermentation additives and closures; yes closures.

Have you ever thought: What is the after-life of a cork? Well there is one. There is a whole new industry that has cropped up in America that recycles, repurposes and otherwise disposes of used cork. You thought you were helping the planet by throwing your used corks in that glass jar only to occasionally look through them to remember that special wine.

Cork re-purposing is bucking a recycling trend. In an article re-published in “Salon”, author Anna Sanford writes that recycling in California is down approximately 5 percentage points and recycling centers are closing primarily since recycled materials such as plastic bottles are less valuable due to the price of oil–plastic is a derivative of oil. But recycled cork is booming. One organization that is focused on repurposing cork for the good of the planet is a non-profit forestry organization-Cork Forest Conservation Alliance, (CFCA) which operates Cork ReHarvest.

Cork is an interesting product because a tree is never cut down for the cork. Corks are made from the bark, which is hand harvested, every 9-11 years. The trees can be harvested for up to 150 years, with no harm to the tree. The cork tree is from the oak family, (Quercus suber) so the cork will impart some of the same characteristics as does an oak barrel. From an environmental viewpoint, the carbon footprint to produce a cork is significantly less than that to produce a metal screw caps or plastic plug closure for wine. With convenient recycling methods for the consumer, the carbon footprint for re-purposing used wine corks, through the Cork ReHarvest program is virtually zero. Also, there are no active recycling programs for screw caps or plastic plugs in the U.S.

There are 13 billion wine corks produced each year, with 51% of the wine corks coming from Portugal and 30% coming from Spain. Cork is natural, non-toxic, biodegradable and is a totally renewable product for the wine industry.

The same cannot be said for aluminum screw caps and plastic closures. In making a cork for a bottle of wine there are approximately 26 steps and in an environmental study by “The Academic Wino”, cork is the hands down best closure from an ecological perspective. Life Cycle Assessment, (LCA) studies show that each cork sequesters 9g of CO2.

According to Wikipedia, a carbon footprint study concluded that cork is the most environmentally friendly wine stopper in comparison to metal or plastic. The Corticeira Amorim study, (“Analysis of the life cycle of Cork, Aluminum and Plastic Wine Closures”), was developed by PricewaterhouseCoopers, following ISO 14040 standards. Results concluded, relative to the emission of greenhouse gases, each plastic stopper released 10 times more CO2, while an aluminum screw cap releases 26 times more CO2 than does a cork stopper in the manufacturing process. The 26 steps, in analyzing the carbon footprint, pertains to the manufacture of cork and includes getting it to the winery.

As alluded to earlier, there are two major players in the relative new industry of repurposing cork-Cork ReHarvest which is a non-profit 501c3 and ReCork. I came across Cork ReHarvest while at a Whole Foods store and saw a used cork collection box. I called The Cork Quality Council in Sonoma, CA to find out what this was all about. The Executive Director of the organization is Peter Weber. Peter confirmed there are two large groups that are active in aggregating used corks through relationships with various retail, hospitality and winery locations. “There are probably a dozen or so smaller organizations that collect used corks for various specialty applications,” Peter commented.

Cork ReHarvest being a non-profit uses the used corks they collect for educational programs to build awareness of the cork forests, to promote cork applications (wine closures) and to explain the ecological benefits of cork-wine being one application. The recycling of cork happens rather quickly. ReHarvest reports, approximately 98% of wine bought is consumed within 48 hours. That means corks can come back into the recycled system quickly.

Cork ReHarvest partners with approximately 1,500 collection centers. “In addition to Whole Foods, there are major restaurants such as Emeril Lagasse, Mario Batali, Bobby Flay and Caesars Palace who support our recycling program along with major wineries who send used corks to us for recycling; we prefer to call it repurposing,” says Patrick Spencer of Cork ReHarvest whose offices are in Salem, Oregon. “We sell collected corks to 6 recycling partners in the U.S. who then distribute them to customers only in the U.S.” To a winemaker, a grade “Triple A” cork can cost $1.00 to $1.50 each. A recycler will sell these used corks for approximately $0.09 each in 1,000 quantities.

The question remaining: What are used corks good for? Some recycled cork finds its way into concrete due to its insulation properties. The recycled paper industry uses ground-up cork combined with reconstituted paper to make packing material. The sports and fishing industry uses reprocessed cork for bobbers and grips, dart boards and household items such as trivets. The building industry uses recycled cork for floor underpayments. Even those sandals you like might have a cork sole liner.