Wine lovers might treasure the oaky, full-bodied taste of a cabernet sauvignon or the light and fruity aroma of a pinot grigio. But if the bottle is stopped with a low-quality cork, they can kiss that meticulously cultivated flavor goodbye.
Many people may only worry about corks when it's time to pop the Champagne, but some experts are worried about wine cork quality, which has been mysteriously in decline for almost 20 years.
Corks are made from the bark of Quercus suber trees, commonly called cork oaks, which grow only in southwest Europe and northwest Africa. More and more low-quality cork trees with thin bark are sprouting up. [6 Unexpected Effects of Climate Change]
Now scientists think rising temperatures and increased exposure to ultraviolet, or UV, light brought on by climate change may be behind chemical changes in the bark of cork oaks.
"There are several factors like climate change, landscape changes and the dry seasons getting longer that could be causing the decline," Rita Teixeira from the University of Lisbon, told Live Science. "The change in bark quality may be the trees' way of adapting."