Most of us have spotted an enormous pile of empty wine bottles in the recycle bin on the eve of trash day and thought, Hmmmm. “Now that’s the sign of a good party.” We all know what happens to the glass portion of the bottle. But what’s done with the cork stoppers is another story entirely.
It’s a sin to toss away a used cork. There are so many ways to reuse them. Retailers are actually now boxing them unused and selling them for a fee! (A bag of 100 corks goes for over $19 on Amazon.com.)
First, there’s the sentimentality argument. Once the wine is gone, it’s important to salvage at least one remnant from a memorable evening. Other than the bottle and maybe a few photographs, there is very little to capture the essence of special night spent over a bottle of wine (or 5 special bottles of wine when you host a free Traveling Vineyard Home Wine Tasting). The cork is a practical and easily stored keepsake. But, if you’re crafty, there are innumerable ways to re-purpose your used corks. Here are a few of our favorites.
Make it useful.
Kits are available from catalog vendors like Wine Enthusiast for making serving trays, bulletin boards, or any number of useful household items. When custom designing your piece, look closely at the writing on each individual cork. You have likely collected many that are decorated similarly or have foreign languages printed on them. Develop a pattern for how you place these so that similar corks are not too close together. You’re looking for variety. Also, place the most memorable corks in the center of your tray.
Make it pretty.
Display your corks in glass jars of all sizes. This type of storage lends color, texture and character to your den, living room or office. Not all corks should make it into your treasure of stoppers. No synthetics allowed.
Make it practical.
Construct markers for your garden by inserting skewers in the bottom of corks and writing herb names on them. Slice an opening vertically in your cork and insert a name card to make a place setting holder for a formal dinner party or wedding.
Make it festive.
Showcase your love of wine front and center on the entrance to your home. Visit your local craft store for a wire frame to build a cork wreath. All it takes is a glue gun and a large ribbon.
If crafty is not your style, accumulate your corks and send them to:
ReCork, a recycling program sponsored by the world’s largest producer of natural cork wine closures. Their program supports the recycling and remanufacturing of natural cork into show components, flooring, gaskets, bulletin boards, sports equipment and even compost.
What do you do with your corks? Tell us on Facebook.