Are we killing cork?

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Although many of us are already bored by the mention of “climate change”, we might need to consider the impact it could have, not only on the world, but on the wine industry as well. Live Science examined the impact of climate control on the Quercus suber trees, commonly called cork oaks, which supplies us of cork for our wine bottles. What they found came as quite a shock to us and we would like to share it with you. Please let us know what you think: will cork die and be replaced by screw caps?

Original article found on

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.

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.”

Bark acts as the protective outer layer on trees that protects the plant from drought and shields against radiation. Cork oaks have been growing thinner and more porous layers of bark. Cork producers need bark that’s at least 27 millimeters (1 inch) thick to make a good cork, but most of the trees are now producing bark between 3 mm and 10 mm (0.1 inches and 0.4 inches), Teixeira and colleagues write in their study, which was published June 22 in the Journal of Experimental Botany.

To figure out what might be causing the changes, Teixeira and a team of researchers analyzed genes in the bark of five high-quality cork trees and five low-quality cork trees growing in Portugal. The scientists discovered that heat shock proteins are essential to the bark of high-quality cork trees. These proteins help the tree grow normally even under stressful conditions like drought and high temperatures, and promote cell division that makes the bark grow thicker.

Bad cork trees have fewer of these shock proteins, but they have more genes that produce huge amounts of phenolic compounds, UV-absorbing chemicals that collect inside the bark. Teixeira and colleagues found that poor-quality cork trees have twice as many phenolic compounds as good-quality cork trees, which suggests the bad-quality cork trees are adapting to protect themselves from elevated radiation levels.

The researchers also discovered that the trees with thin layers of bark have lots of lenticular channels — small airways that allow gas exchange between the bark and the outside air. Corks made from this kind of bark are considered low quality, because the lenticular channels allow more air to enter the bottle. The oxygen seeping in reacts with the alcohol and makes acetic acid that gives the wine an unpleasant sour and vinegar-like taste. A batch of bad corks can ruin entire cases of wine, Teixeira said.

The global cork industry is worth about $2 billion, but metal wine stoppers are cheap alternatives and are growing in popularity. Past research published in Flavour and Fragrance Journal found that consumers could not tell the difference between wine corked with a natural oak-based cork and wine that was corked with a metal stopper. However, many wine producers still prefer the original oak-based cork, but the choice between a cork and a metal cap is hotly debated among wine enthusiasts.

Teixeira says that after more genetic testing, it may be possible to select the best cork oaks for breeding and increase the quality of the cork used to stop wine bottles. In the future it may even be possible to genetically engineer cork oaks with high-quality bark.

The more scarce cork becomes, the more consumers will pay for “corked” red wine. Are you willing to pay more, or would you rather settle for screw cap?



Don’t waste a drop!

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How many times have you had to lick the side of your glass just to get that red tear of “too-good-to-waste-a-drop”-wine off your glass? Well, never fear when WineFolly is near! They’ve shared the secret of how to pour wine without spilling!

Watch the video here

Tips to Pouring Wine

  • Be Prepared – Have a napkin handy to wipe the spout, especially if you are serving many people. Sommeliers like to hold the bottle with the label facing outward (as demonstrated). This technique isn’t necessary, it just makes it easier for others to see what is being poured.
  • No Drips Trick – Rotate the bottom side of the bottle away from you as you deliberately stop pouring. This trick does require some practice for perfection but it should throw any last tiny drips off route to the back of the bottle.
  • Practice Practice – Think of it this way: the more you practice, the more wine you get to drink. Perfectionism does have its rewards.

We couldn’t have said it any better: “Think of it this way: the more you practice, the more wine you get to drink. Perfectionism does have its rewards.”


Welcome to Merwida’s Blog

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We are so glad you have come to visit! On this blog we will make sure that you are informed of all that is going on in and around Merwida Wine Cellar, as well as chats to our staff, interesting articles we’ve found, nice recipes to pair with your wine, as well as anything and everything to do with wine!

If you would like to know more of Merwida Wine Cellar, please visit our About Us page, visit our Website for more information, or Contact Us and tell us what we can help you with.

Please feel free to share any comments, suggestions or feedback. We are eager to hear what you think of our blog, website and winery!

Red Wine Marinade for Beef

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We all enjoy a nice red wine with our red meat, but what about using it for other purposes as well? We’ve found a delicious red wine marinade for beef that you can try. Please let us know what other recipes you make that includes wine.

This recipe can be found on and got six 5-star ratings!


  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup red wine
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced


  1. In measuring cup, whisk together oil, wine lemon juice, thyme, pepper and garlic.
  2. Place beef in plastic bag or shallow glass dish.
  3. Pour marinade over top; seal bag refrigerate for 2 to 6 hours.


Did You Know?

 Scientists have discovered that a glass of red wine can prevent the build up of cholesterol after a meal of dark or red meat

The Ultimate List of Womens (and mens) Wine Toys

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There comes a time in a woman’s life when the phrase “boys and their toys” just makes you feel that maybe you should start your own collection… Well, here it is. The ultimate list of wine toys for women (and men):

Bathtub Champagne Chiller
When you just can’t let go of your wine, there’s the Meld Wine Glass
Shelf-chilling wine glasses that eliminate the need for ice
Waiter Man Wine Bottle Holder
Flatdog – Your mobile table top that can follow you anywhere
A handbag with a built in wine holder

Find more wine toys here

Creamy Seafood Soup

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We have decided to share our “secret” creamy seafood soup recipe… But only because the people visiting us at Soetes & Soup 2014 asked so nicely.


  • 1kg hake fillets, cooked and flaked
  • 100g smoked salmon
  • 600g seafood Marinara
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 celery, chopped
  • 2 spring onions, chopped
  • 400ml fresh cream
  • 1.5l water
  • 150g maziena
  • 400ml Merwida White Muscadel
  • garlic, salt, pepper and Tabasco to taste


  1. Cook hake fillets, smoked salmon and seafood Marinara in water. Drain, but do not throw out the water. Blend in food processor. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Blend onions, celery, spring onions and garlic.
  3. In a pot, add fish, vegetables, cream and half of the water you used to cook the fish in. Bring to boil. Add Maziena. Add water as necessary.
  4. Pour in Merwida White Muscadel and Tabasco.
  5. Salt and pepper to taste.

This recipe is great with Merwida Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and White Muscadel.

Not THAT glass!

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If you are one of those people who will drink wine from the bottle, just because you can, you probably don’t worry about pairing the wine with it’s perfect wine glass. But others might freak out at the thought of a delectable Chardonnay served in a Burgundy shape glass…

To prevent your more passionate wine-loving friends of strangling you, or throwing your favourite “You rock” studded tulip glasses in the garbage, rather study the below chart of types of wine glasses from


For a more in-depth discussion, click here.

Soetes & Soup 2014

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This year’s Soetes & Soup festival was once again a huge success despite the bad weather.

Friday’s furious storm did not seem to bother our guests as they started their festival route just a few minutes after 9am. Throughout the day people gathered in troops inside the cozy lantern lit cellar.

Saturday the weather looked up and our parking started to fill up nicely. With only a few light showers, people started enjoying themselves under our tent and blankets. Inside the cellar guests could taste the marvelous range of Merwida wines while listening to the wonderful sounds of Take Note Music. Here is a small taste of what you missed out on. Our White Muscadel was a big winner and was sold out by Saturday afternoon.

Thanks to all who came out to join us for the Soetes & Soup! A special thanks to all the staff, Bean to Coffee, and Take Note Music. We hope to see you again next year!

Visit our Facebook Page for more photos

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