Champagne in beer bottles No more snow, but damp and witheringly cold. Still daydreaming on and off of Portugal, golden heat and the shade of the ancient cork forests (see 21 Feb). Makes you feel old when something was there, intact and beautiful and useful, and now it’s under threat, as these forests and the cork production industry are.
We all know the arguments for synthetic bottle-stoppers. Can’t risk our wine being ‘corked’, can we? Standardisation is all – just like the fruit in our supermarkets.
Nastiest innovation yet: I read the other day that champagne producers Moët Hennessey have just announced the launch of sparkling wine in bottles sealed with a metal beer-bottle cap. Ugh!
So many livelihoods depend on cork. Its production and the associated industries are 50 per cent of the economy in some parts of Portugal. And not just people. The stripping of bark from cork oaks is one of the most environmentally-friendly harvesting processes in the world, with not a single tree cut down, and the cork forests support a precious ecosystem: http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Publications/ZooGoer/2003/3/Cork.cfm
I loved your story of Portugal. I used to date a guy from the Azores - a third of the way across the Atlantic, but proud of being Portuguese. He was happy that people were doing so well since the EU, but sad for the loss of the donkey carts and all his memories of early childhood (he moved to the States when he was 9, though his folks have moved back).
I wondered about the cork production, since I've seen more and more synthetic corks (owing to opening a few too many bottles lately, but that's another story). It would be sad to see that way of life give way to growing urban, homogenized lifestyle.