ackaging decisions are historically intrenched in the wine industry; largely based on consumer perception, very little thought has gone into the environmental impacts these decisions make. Sustainability in the wine industry goes well beyond seeding a cover crop, metering water usage and embracing renewable energy. Manufacturing and transport of glass bottles accounts for roughly 60% of the carbon footprint of the wine industry. For those who like to open a nice bottle of local wine, this will be hard to swallow - but it’s true. Fortunately, there are a myriad of packaging decisions a winery can make to reduce their carbon footprint. The overwhelming majority of wine for sale globally is neither
Alas, we cannot get rid of wine bottles altogether. Many wines do benefit from cellaring. Something transformative occurs in bottles, especially magnums, when age-worthy wine is allowed to mature.
Chris Turyk - I love wine, a lot. I’m a Certified Sommelier, WSET Diploma graduate, and get in everyones way at unsworthvineyards.
What Is In The Bottle intended for, nor will benefit from, further aging. After a few days opened, and with a few obscure exceptions aside, wine will not taste as the winemaker intended whether it comes in a bottle, bag or can. Unfortunately, it isn’t very beneficial for the producer or consumer when the perception is that basic quality commodity wine is exclusively reserved for alternative wine
packaging. Recently, however, we have seen premium wines packaged in cans and even bagin-box and I say “Bravo”! Over the past decade in BC, kegs of local wine have become commonplace in restaurants, hotels and the like. In this format, they offer numerous other advantages such as eliminating bottle specific flaws and ease and speed of service. The kegs hold 19.5L, which makes most restaurant wines by the glass very affordable. Once tapped, a keg has an almost indefinite shelf life and the whole system can be fitted into something the size of a wine barrel; tower, taps and all. If you are a creature of habit and have a favourite local wine you routinely stock up on, a home tap system might be worth considering.
Ridding the world of the majority of wine bottles would also ruin one of the biggest contributors to atmospheric carbon sequestration that humans can take credit for the cork industry. Cork is the bark of an Oak species native to southwest Europe and northwest Africa and wine cork production is largely centralized in Portugal. Cork oaks grow for almost a decade before their first harvest and are over 40 years old before they are harvested for premium natural corks. Estimates indicate that for every ton of cork produced, the forest has sequestered 73 tons of carbon dioxide, making total Portuguese cork oak forests sequester 4 million tons a year. These forests are also some of the most bio diverse ecosystems on the planet. Their story is a compelling one and more than just a simple packaging decision. Corks take more than their fair share of flack. After a perfectly good wine is put in bottle, many things can go sideways. One of those things is commonly referred to as ‘cork taint’, a bacterial flaw that can, in varying degrees, imbue an otherwise innocent wine with unmistakably unpleasant aromas. The bacteria,