Most people don't spend a lot of time thinking about corks — those things that stand between you and your precious wine! — but it's one of the most important materials involved with winemaking and has been for centuries. We thought this primer might be helpful if you want to get to know your cork a little better...

Cork is one of the most sustainable materials. When it's harvested, the trees are not cut down, and cork products and by-products are fully recyclable. Cork oak can live for up to 300 years and produce about 15 harvests of cork bark in their lifetime.

Ever wonder why wine should be stored on its side? It's so the cork will stay damp and remain expanded to keep the air out of the bottle. A dried cork will shrink and let in too much air, which results in premature oxidation.

Wine industry experts agree that natural cork stoppers are best suited for wines intended to age, as they are porous enough to allow just enough oxygen in.

Cork is still king. Natural cork stoppers represent about 60 percent of all cork-based production.

Cork wasn't always the closure of choice. While cork has been used to bottle wine for centuries, it wasn't until the mid-17th century that they became the go-to closure because glass bottles were popularized. Prior to that, winemakers stored wine in sacks and pottery urns covered by wood.

Most of the world's cork oak is grown in Spain and Portugal. Just like some of the world's most delicious wine.

So there you have it -- all you need to know about the cork. Something to think about the next time you pop open a bottle!