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There are about 20 billion closures used in wine bottles each year, and 13 billion of these are made from cork. Cork is made from bark stripped from the cork trees that grow either in cork forests or on cork farms. Only about 30% of the cork harvested is used in wine.
Ideally, a closure for a wine bottle should be inert (so as not to strip or impart any flavours from or to the wine), airtight and a consistent seal. Cork can, if faulty, impart trichloroanisole (TCA, or cork taint) to the wine. While good corks can be airtight, cork is not a consistent seal (as each cork is different), something that can lead to ‘random oxidation’, or a dullness of fruit, in wines.
The inconsistency of cork as a closure has led to the increasing use of alternatives, such as synthetic cork, screwcap and Vino-Lok.