Even in the early antiquity knew the Assyrian. Egyptian and Greeks the cork. In some cases, cork stoppers were also used as closures for vessels such as amphorae used. Mostly, however, pegs made of terracotta (clay) were used, which were fastened with string and then sealed with lacquer, clay or pitch. The Roman author Cato the Elder (234-149 BC) writes that the wine jugs after the fermentation would have to be closed with cork and pitch. The Romans already knew this type of closure, but it was forgotten again with the fall of the Roman Empire. This was probably because the Iberian Peninsula as the main source of cork bark was conquered by the Moors in the 8th century and ruled for a long time. Until the late Middle Ages, vessels were sealed with wooden plugs dipped in oil and wrapped with hemp, pitch or wax.
With the development of glass bottles Glass plugs were primarily used first, but the cork was rediscovered at the beginning of the 17th century. Even the monk and alleged inventor of the champagne cathedral Pérignon (1638-1715) experimented with it. The corks initially had a conical shape due to different bottle neck sizes and were only half-sunk for easier removal. Only by developing more usable corkscrews they got a cylindrical shape and were now driven fully into the bottle neck. As the dominant type of closure for bottles The cork then established itself in the middle of the 17th century, which subsequently led to a rapid boom in the cork industry.
Today, the natural cork is mainly made from the thick, outer bark of the most suitable cork oak "Quercus suber". More than half of the world's production comes from Portugal, and other important countries are Spain, Algeria, Italy and Morocco. The trees reach heights of up to ten meters and can be used for around 200 years. They can only be peeled for industrial use at the age of 25; The bark is only suitable for bottle corks from the age of 45. This is done again at intervals of 9 to 12 years; A tree can be debarked about 15 times. The bark is aged for at least one year, then boiled in water, pressed, cut into plates and sorted by quality.
Strips are cut from this, from which the cylindrical plugs are punched out. They are produced in a length of 38 to 60 mm; longer corks usually mean a higher wine quality. The blanks are...