Some thoughts about cork and its alternatives in germany

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Some thoughts about cork and its alternatives in germany

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I have been asked to write about the situation of wine closures in germany and what I think of it. So here are just some of my thoughts, sorry for this short article, but my mind is during harvest allways in the winecellar!!

How many bottles ar closed with which closure? To be honest, I really don’t know what the situation is I’m not able to tell.

For me the situation looks like this: We do have a tremendous amount of different closures, and the number of bottles closed with alternatives ist rising dramatically. More and more wineries are switching to alternatives like Diam, plastic or screw cap.


There might be several reasons, I think the main reason we will find at the corcproducers themselves.

After the new wineworld was emerging and the demand for corks was getting bigger and bigger, the corc industrie did gave away the best qualities to the new wine world of course they were paying best prices. The rest was sold to Germany. This is what a lot of winemakers believe in. I’m not sure wether it is true or not, but I would tend to believe it.

The corcindustrie was rising prices like no one else in the winebusiness. Corks were double, triple and at least even quadruple its prices. In the same time prices for wines sold in germany were dropping. The producer, mainly importers of french, spanish and oversea wines were looking to reduce costs.

Germanys largest, most important wine merchant demands the use of plasticcorks from one specific company from his wine suppliers. In this stores you won’t find a single natural closure!

The winejournalists did start to campaign against natural cork, a winemaker colleague even guesses they were paid from the australian wineindustrie or get nice trips to australia. I don’t know what is true and I do not care. I don’t know very much winejournalists which do not take position against natural cork, again the corcindustrie did not care about these people and let them go. What a great mistake!

But also winemakers which usually stick with useful products did start to look for alternative products.

Read on why!

If any problems with the traditional closure occurs, the winemaker couldn’t find anyone who is responsible exept himself. The winemakers had to learn, it is allways something else but never the corkproducer! Here are some of these things you can learn from every corkagent walking around.

  • After the cork find its way into the bottle, your bottle has to stand upright for min. 5 minutes, otherwise the corkindustrie won’t responsible for anything. Your corkagent is knowing everything and will teach you how to bottle wine, of course he cares and he loves you and your wines.
  • Your corking machines should be always totaly new and completely overhauled after bottling a small amount of bottles, otherwise the corkindustrie will find some technical mistakes. Your personal corkagent will be able just to look for a few seconds to your machines and he knows they need to be overhauled completely, even if they are new and never used. Don’t forget, the corkagent loves you!!
  • At least, vou need to store the corks in perfect conditions, and your corks should not be older than 2 weeks. Unless you agree to store the corks in your living room the corkagent won’t be happy and will tell you that under other conditions the corkindustrie won’t be responsible for anything what happens with the closure.

This could go on for a lot of of more points, no problem!

We learn, from winemakers sight the behavior of corkproducers is like this of a kidnapper who wants to press money for bad quality corks. In this case it was a real pleasure to learn there are alternatives in the world of closure and the consumers in germany are accepting them. The work against the corc monopoly could start. The demand of natural closures in the winery I’m working for has dropped about 90 %. We are using for the basic qualitys the Diam closure, the bottles sold to restaurants screw cap and all the rest like Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese and barrel matured redwines get the natural cork as closure, but only of course the tradition.

To mark the point, I dislike the way how alternative closures are promoted in germany, but this happens of course the majestic corkproducers do not want to talk with common people like winemakers or wingrowers in my country, unless they have to in court.

Only corkagents did talk to us, but sorry, what must happen to a man to get a corkagent?

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5 Kommentare.

  • ouch!

    sorry to hear that the fight for quality is quite so hard.

    I definitely feel I learned something new from this post as, of course, my link is with Rioja and with cork 🙂 (Sorry!)

    thanks for a very enlightening post

  • Maybe I can slightly enlighten the Situation in Germany. Screwcaps are slowly taking over more and more. As there is a too great demand for individually printed BVS 30 H 60 Caps, the cap producers do not need to do any marketing activity yet. They still have to build up production facilities first. In Baden-Württemberg, many Cooperatives are starting to move to screwcaps. The big part of the market is getting used to the twist.

    And reading Vinum 10/2008 Page 22:
    60 of the 132 Wines that were tasted this year, were closed with a screwcap. Much more than in previous years. And of those 20 sweet Auslesen, that were closed with a cork, 6 had distinct off odours.

  • Hello Mr. Lippert,
    your article seems to be full of frustration and anger
    Actually I was a natural cork salesman for almost 9 years, and I don’t feel criminal at all.

    It is a fact that price increase for natural cork in the last decade was tremendous and problems with cork taint were more important. But since 1998 cork taint catastrophy the cork industry made important efforts to solve the problem.Nevertheless natural cork reminds to be a natural product with failures and it has become simply to expensive for most of our vintners compared to the not-increase of the wine prices.

    Stop telling that bad corks were sold to dumb german vintners.
    There is no country in the world where the part of the white wines is as important as in Germany. We have the most sensible wines for sensoric influences, not only cork taint.

    I think alternative closures will develop more and more and give new possibilities to the vintner to find the right closure for every wine. That can be the screwcap (with a lousy carbon footprint9 for the Sauvignon blanc for example, or the synthetic stopper for most of the other wines ,drunk in 3-7 years, like most of the wines, giving the possibility to develop best aromes and assure positive ageing.
    There will also leave some good natural cork where tradition and long ageing (over 10 years) is demanded.

    I don’t see a long lasting success for screwcap on all wines because of its bad carbon foot print, the hermetic closing of the bottle and the cheap image for the consumer.


    Hans-Peter Decker

  • Re. Carbon Footprint. The last Reason for using Korks!

    Sorry, but I have to ask this totally silly question fully out of context:

    Regarding „Actually I was a natural cork salesman for almost 9 years, and I don’t feel criminal at all.“ and „bad carbon foot print“.

    How many Kork closures are needed to compensate your carbon emissions during your sales travels?

  • Hi ,
    all salesman for every type of closure are on the road for selling their products. I don#t think there is a big difference, and in a carbon footprint analysis that is considered.
    Aluminium industries are extremely energy intensive and dirty, not only for primary products but also for recycled products. So if you prefer screwcap you do it for other things than carbon footprint.

    By the way what is about your carbon footprint with two wineries at the two ends of the world, jetting from D to NZ and back ? (I don’t expect an answer)

    Thank You