The short answer is: You can do either. As this new pro-cork campaign reminds us, our traditional wine-bottle stopper comes from the cork oak tree, and pretty much anything that comes from the earth can be returned to the earth, be it a paper plate or a wine cork.

But why not reuse that cork before you rot it in a compost bin? Imagine your cork being reborn as an "agglomerated" wine cork, floor tile, even Birkenstocks! (It’s ok to cross your fingers for it to become another wine stopper, or to be chopped up into tile, especially when the pattern is this retro-cute.)

These four corks—from Team Wine’s recent Chardonnay and Syrah tasting and pairing with our One-Block Winter Feast—are on their way back to the earth via a circuitous composting path … basically, I put them in our city composting bin without reading that I shouldn’t—green-leaning cities like San Francisco want you to reuse first.

So I logged on to to see where I could find the closest cork-recycling bin. I saw a few in tasting rooms this past summer while exploring Paso Robles wine country on California’s Central Coast, and ReCORK says there are 317 bins scattered around the Golden State, but I hadn’t noticed any in NorCal.

Turns out we were scheduled to have one at our own Celebration Weekend, Sunset’s annual open house (every June—come visit!), which features wine. A lot of wine. So I emailed the ReCORKers—hopefully a cork-recycling bin will be on its way to our Test Kitchen soon.

Planning on popping open a few bottles this holiday season? Find a recycling bin near you—or get the details on how to stick your corks in the mail—by clicking here.

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