Wine & Sustainability: Would you consider alternative packaging to glass bottles?

Glass bottle is the main packaging as it fulfils consumers’ expectations of how wine should be presented. Surely, glass is inert, durable and suitable for ageing wine, but out of the +30 billion bottles of wines produced every year,  the majority (90%) is consumed within weeks from purchase. Only a small percentage is bought for ageing (OIVW). Glass bottles account for 29% of the carbon footprint of packaged wine (CSWA, 2011). Glass is energy-intensive to make and complicated to recycle in comparison to other packaging.  

Are there valid alternative to glass bottles for wines not meant for ageing?

Cans, Paper-based Tetra Pak and PET.

Today, we will focus on cans!

The popularity of canned wines has exploded in the US, because of their convenience for picnics, barbecues and outdoor activities. Cans are cheaper to produce and transport than glass, plus they  can be recycled endlessly and more easily. What about the quality though? Wine Critic and MW Jancis Robinson says ‘The best wines I’ve tasted from cans have been of a quality I’d be happy to take to the dinner table. We are all responsible for the impression that good wine comes in bottle,’ acknowledges Jancis Robinson ‘ we must do more to send the message that wines in alternative packaging can be cool too.’

The rise of popularity of wines produced sustainably, such as organic, biodynamic, and natural wines,  reflects a community of wine consumers and producers aiming to reduce the environmental damage and global warming that wine production contributes to: soils degradation, groundwater contamination, biodiversity reduction, CO2 just to mention a few. Whilst much of the attention has been drawn on the adoption of more sustainable practices in both the vineyard and winery, a lot is missing when it comes to packaging and transport.

And you? How far would you rethink your drinking to be more sustainable? Would you give a canned wine a try?


Decanter December 2021 Vol. 47 nr.3

CSWA- California Wine Institute

OIV- International Organization of Vine and Wine

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