The cork producers created quite a stir over the holidays. An organization called 100% Cork (sponsored by the Portuguese Cork Association and the Cork Quality Council) produced several videos designed to promote the use of cork, which many people found to be offensive, condescending, degrading to women and God knows what else.
The ads were narrated by “internationally renowned wine sommelier” Garth Lockwood, a parody of the supercilious wine expert. The first one depicted an upwardly mobile female executive bringing a bottle of wine to an office party. When her colleagues discover that the bottle has a screwcap closure she is disgraced and shunned, her career ruined.
In the second, a young man is opening a bottle of wine while attempting to seduce a lady friend. The amorous woman is completely turned off when she realizes the bottle has an artificial cork. When he tries again with a bottle sealed with a real cork, she literally throws herself at him. Both videos immediately went viral, and people around the globe spent the better part of one week venting their feelings about them.
After watching both ads, it’s hard to say if they were intended to be taken seriously or as examples of tongue-in-cheek humor. Either I don’t know a lot of women who choose their romantic partners based on the man’s preference for bottle closures, or I’ve led a sheltered life. I think the other claims made in these ads are more disturbing. Both videos contend that cork is “100% natural” and a renewable resource, and that artificial stoppers are ruining the environment because they are made with petroleum products.
I’m no expert, but it’s hard to believe that artificial corks and screwcaps are the cause of climate change. The underlying premise of the ads—that bottles sealed with corks are somehow better than those with alternative closures—is obviously mistaken. In fact, most of us have come to realize that the reverse is largely true.
It’s been a tough decade or two for the Portuguese cork producers. Screwcaps now seal more than 20% of wine bottles, and they have been accepted by polite society (a situation unthinkable years ago). Wouldn’t it be nice if the Cork Quality Council spent its money trying to eradicate cork taint, rather than making stupid videos?