Nomacorc’s Role in Evolution of the Wine Closure Industry
For hundreds of years, over 95% of the world’s wines were kept in the bottle by a natural cork punched from a slice of cork oak tree bark. The industry and consumers alike accepted and even heralded the tradition associated with natural cork wine closures. But as with many traditions, at some point change becomes inevitable. In the wine closure industry, this happened in the late 1980’s when the rising demand for wine around the world led cork producers to increase production and lower quality, resulting in a significant increase in the occurrence and awareness of wines tainted by TCA (2-4-6 trichloroanisole which gives wines a moldy smell and off-flavor). Much of these TCA problems were due to the growing use of technical corks, generally a much lower quality and lower price closure made of pieces of cork bark that are held together with various types of glues, adhesives, and manufacturing methods.
This market dynamic opened the door for the introduction of synthetic wine closures in the late 1990’s. Not only were synthetics a solution to wine tainted by TCA, but they also provided a considerably lower cost option than good quality natural corks. In just 10 years, synthetic closures have gone from zero to 25% of the 17.5 billion wine closures used around the world each year. The company leading the “synthetic tsunami” was Nomacorc, the worldwide leader in bark-alternative wine closures. Today Nomacorc is recognized by the industry as the quality leader in synthetic closures primarily due to the outstanding consistency of the company’s products which are created with a patented co-extrusion manufacturing process. Unlike injection molded and mono-extruded synthetic closures (often called plastic plugs), Nomacorc’s portfolio of products provide superior and highly consistent wine preservation because they protect wine against over- exposure to oxygen (i.e. oxidation which changes the color and flavor of the wine) while maintaining the look and experience consumer’s associate with natural cork. It is not surprising that today 30 of the 40 largest volume wine companies in the world use Nomacorc closures.
With the natural cork industry reeling from its market share decline, other types of non-bark wine closures mounted a charge. Screw caps, which have been used for decades on low price, large size wine jugs began appearing on higher quality 750 ml bottled wines. Despite their ease of use, screw caps suffer from a negative perception with a majority of consumers, and more importantly have been shown to potentially cause rotten egg and burnt rubber odors and off-flavors resulting from wine reduction (the development of sulfur compounds formed due to insufficient oxygen permeation through the cap).
As the wine closure industry continues to evolve, Nomacorc has further shown its innovative nature by creating an international research program in the area of oxygen management in wine. Partnering with the most renowned wine research institutes around the globe, Nomacorc led the design and funding of research that is providing new data and understanding about how oxygen impacts wine quality and preservation. The results of this research will improve the ability of winemakers to control and improve wine quality and consistency, and fuel Nomacorc’s continued development of wine closures that meet the needs of the vast array of wine varietals and winemaking styles. The company’s recent introduction of NomaSenseTM proprietary oxygen analyzer equipment, is more evidence of Nomacorc’s continued commitment to strategic partnership with the international wine community.