Preparing the Bark
The bark is left outside for a few months to cure. Then, the planks of cork are taken to a processing facility to be cleaned. They are boiled first, which not only helps to clean the bark, but also helps to soften and flatten them. The planks are boiled in a water that contains a fungicide to ensure that the cork is free from mold and bad fungus. After the usable planks are separated, they are stacked in a humidity-controlled space for several weeks.
Cutting the Corks
Each plank is graded based on quality, and then it is cut into smaller strips. The best cork is sent to be hand punched for wine bottles, while the rest will be made into technical corks. Technical corks may be too thin or have gaps. In order to still use this cork, it is ground up and fused together to form a technical cork for wine that is less expensive.
The remaining top quality corks are then sorted by a machine and then by a human eye to make sure that the corks are organized by the correct grading. The top grade cork will be the most expensive, and only the best will used to cork the top quality bottles of wine.
The Wine & After
Did you know that each year about 13 billion wine corks are produced? After the wine has been enjoyed, the cork can still savored. Some people collect them and others use it for art projects. Cork can also be recycled to be used in cork-boards or even cork flooring. What have you used your old wine corks for?