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American Consumers: We Want Cork

By Snooth Editorial | November 17, 2014

The United States’ penchant for the real McCork is growing.

According to a recent release by the California-based Cork Quality Council (CQC) in which the group analyzes statistics from Vinostat and Nielsen Tracking Surveys, American wine producers and wine drinkers are seeing a steady increase in the number or purchases of premium bottles of with natural corks.

“Overall survey results indicate that the number of top brands using cork closures is growing, and that brands finished with cork have enjoyed more robust sales growth than brands finished with alternative closures,” the CQC reported.

According to the study, premium wines closed with corks show a 29 percent slope while wines with synthetic or screw top closures have seen a nine percent slope.

The percentage statistics take into account the average rise in sales of each category from December 2009 until September 2014.

The study classified “premium wines” as 750 ml bottles of wine which cost $6 or more.

Additionally, figures show same-brand wine sales of corked premium wines increased by six percent from September of last year until September 2014. Conversely, alternatively corked wines saw a one percent decrease in sales during that same time period.

The report also highlighted price comparisons and sales numbers by price segment.

According to the CQC numbers, the average price of a cork-closed wine was $11.51. The average price of an alternatively closed wine was $9.40, creating a difference of $2.11, or 22 percent.

Among price segments, American premium wine drinkers spent the majority of their money on corked wines in the $10 to $15 range. This price point saw about $45 million spent on corked wines, $15 million spent on synthetically-closed wines and $10 million spent on screwcap wines.

The next most popular price point was the $6 to $10 range, where synthetically-closed wines actually outsold corked wines. Americans spent more than $35 million on wines with synthetic closures as opposed to a little less than $35 million spent on corked closed wines.

While wines with synthetic closures saw a staggering leap in sales in the $6 to $10 category, sales of screwcap wines actually decreased from a little more than $5 million to $5 million.

Wines with cork closures which sold for $15 or more outshone their synthetic and screwcap competitors, outselling the foes about four to one.

“Wines finished with natural cork undergo a predictable process of aging that results in softened tannins, added complexity and the creation of bottle bouquet,” the CQC’s website says.

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