Antonio Amorim is putting a new cork in wine bottles to keep his company’s profits from spoiling, Bloomberg News reports.
After losing sales to synthetic stoppers and metal screwcaps, Amorim said he had found a way to stem a decline in market share through a process that gets rid of “cork taint.” The contaminant can render the finest vintage undrinkable, and costs the wine industry hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
Corticeira Amorim, the world’s biggest maker of wine corks, saw sales decline each year from 2000 through 2004 as consumers turned up their noses at wines with the bouquet of a damp dog. Amorim responded by modernizing plants to cut production costs as he searched for a cure.
Amorim’s process, which steams out compounds caused by a naturally occurring fungus, has helped lower the industry-wide incidence of cork taint to less than 1 percent of wine bottles produced, from as much as 5 percent, said Sonia Baldeira, an analyst at Caixa Banco de Investimento in Lisbon, Portugal.
Meanwhile, however, numerous wineries worldwide continue to make the transition to screwcaps – some for a few of their bottlings, some for all.