If the success of screw caps wasn't enough to have cork producers quaking in their boots, the launch of a natural cork that can be removed at the twist of your hand will have them running for the hills.
Today's launch of Helix, an easy-to-remove, resealable natural cork closure, represents the culmination of four years' work and a joint investment of five million euros ($6.67m) between the world's biggest cork producer, Amorim, and leading glass maker O-I.
While 86 percent of wine is currently packaged in glass and 70 percent under cork, according to figures provided at the unveiling, the rise of screw caps and more convenient forms of packaging have not gone unnoticed by either party. These range from wine in cans to single-serve plastic glasses filled with French wine.
Carlos de Jesus, head of marketing and communications at Amorim, said: "We needed to recognize that convenience is an important factor in the fast turn-around bottled [wine] segment."
Consumers who buy a bottle of wine closed with the Helix will see grooves on the cork not dissimilar to a screw cap. This allows the bottle to be opened – complete with a pop – and resealed many times. The top of the cork sits above the top of the bottle, similar to a Champagne bottle and is easy to remove – perhaps too easy. If wineries do adopt the new cork, they would have to go for a tamper-proof seal or capsule to stop the wines from being opened by thirsty types.
As yet, Amorim and O-I do not have any wineries signed up for the product, although they revealed that there were "about a dozen wineries testing [it]."
Nevertheless, de Jesus claimed that the new product was "the first real wine-packaging innovation in the 21st century" and a "game changer."