un bouchon

une bouteille

Bouteille = bottle (c) Kristin Espinasse Today you can read Jean-Marc's article in English.

une bouteille (boo-tay) noun, feminine
1. bottle

une bouteille à la mer = a message of distress
avoir de la bouteille = to have experience
une bouteille à l'encre = a confused situation
être dans la bouteille = to be in on a secret
porter les bouteilles = (to carry bottles) to walk carefully
voir les choses par le trou d'une bouteille = (to see life through the opening of a bottle) to have a narrow perspective on life

Citation du Jour:
L'optimisme est un ersatz de l'espérance, qu'on peut rencontrer facilement partout, et même au fond de la bouteille.

Optimism is an ersatz of hope, that we can easily encounter anywhere, even at the bottom of the bottle. --Georges Bernanos

Uncorked !     by Jean-Marc Espinasse

You may ask yourself just why, for a while now, synthetic corks have replaced most of the natural corks in bottled wine.

In fact, there are many reasons:

The most obvious reason of all is the elimination of the taste that cork can bring to wine ["cork taint"] which is so frustrating, particularly when the bottle is a special one.

Another explanation comes from the fact that world production of cork is limited, especially these last few years, as Portugal, which is the leading producer, has been ravaged by fires that have destroyed a great part of these cork oak trees.

At the same time, world production of wines has not ceased to grow with the arrival of wines from the new world (North America, Chile, Australia, South Africa). So it was necessary to find other solutions for sealing bottles of wine.

But the main reason comes from the actual utility of the cork. Originally, it permitted not only closure of the bottle but also for the wine to be in slight contact with the air, and therefore age slowly and in the best conditions. It should be noted that in the past (up until the 80's), wines were made the hard way and it was necessary to wait a few years before being able to drink and appreciate them at their true value. The natural cork, therefore, had its usefulness.

Today, wine consumption habits have greatly changed. We buy wine at 7 p.m. and drink it at 7:30 p.m. If that's not such a typical scenario, then one should simply note that wines are quickly consumed. And for this, they must be made in such a way that enables them to be appreciated young. These wines are less concentrated, more fragile regarding oxidation and won't get better with aging. A plastic cork, which is almost completely hermetic, permits these wines to keep their freshness and fruity taste and will also better protect them from
oxidation which might degrade them. Of course, this reasoning is not to be used for great wines (ones which should be aged) which continue to be sealed with real cork.

At last, the plastic cork enables marketing, an element that has become so important in commercial aspects, to express itself, notably by the range of colors and by a personal logo which is easier to create on the plastic cork.

Now, if you have plastic corked bottles hanging around your cellar, you can, without scruples, go and grab one and drink it to my health.

Cheers !

Jean-Marc ESPINASSE is a French wine lover. Apart from managing, along with his uncle, a little family vineyard in Chateauneuf-du-Pape, he is selecting "soulful wines" throughout France, Spain and Italy to offer to US wine importers. He is also educating people in wine, mainly in corporate companies but also in schools like the Wine MBA program in Bordeaux. Write to him at: [email protected]

Families of the Vine : Seasons Among the Winemakers of Southwest France "Sanders’s book brings contemporary winemaking in France to life....Absorbing and informative." --Library Journal

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety