A four-year partnership between Portuguese cork producer Amorim and container glass giant Owens-Illinois (O-I) has resulted in a resealable twist-to-open cork and glass packaging solution that has been designed for the popular premium, fast turnaround wine segment.

The screw cap versus cork stopper debate has been raging for years. Some like the pop of a cork whilst others prefer the convenience of a screw cap. However, a new innovation combines the benefits of both in a resealable cork concept that doesn’t require a corkscrew.

Launched at the biennial Vinexpo wine show, which took place during June in Bordeaux, France, the twist-to-open Helix concept consists of a cork stopper in combination with a glass bottle with an internal thread finish in the neck of the bottle to match the grooves moulded into the cork.

“Helix meets consumers’ growing desire for sustainability and quality, while delivering the brand building and premium image packaging wineries rely upon,” says Antonio Amorim, Chairman and CEO of Amorim.

“We are delighted to offer the market not only a 100% renewable, modern product, but also a solution that enhances the wine-drinking experience through opening and resealing convenience,” he adds.

Cork, which is essentially the bark of the cork oak tree, has served as a natural wine stopper for centuries. This is due to its unique physical qualities, including lightness, compressibility, elastic memory, gradual recovery, impermeability to liquids and resistance to wear, heat and rot. It is also biodegradable, renewable and recyclable.

The largest areas of cork oak forest are in Western Mediterranean countries. The cork is carefully stripped from the trunk of the tree every nine years, without damaging the tree. From plank to final product involves a number of processes.

As the Helix’s innovation does not merely lie in the design of the cork but in the design of the bottle too, it required two heads working together. By drawing on their joint expertise in serving the global wine markets, it took Amorim and O-I four years to create the concept.

“The future of innovation is through collaboration. Helix is a proven example of what can be achieved for consumers and the wine trade when the world’s leading companies in glass packaging and cork work together,” says O-I European President Erik Bouts.

To test out their design on consumers, user research was carried out in France, the UK, the USA and China, which revealed great consumer acceptance of Helix for fast turnaround and popular premium wines. In other words, wines with relatively short shelf life in the medium price range.

In addition, consumers also appreciated retaining the festive ‘pop’ associated with opening a bottle of wine.

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