Friday, March 07, 2008

Wine Packaging

A few posts ago I discussed the development of the screw cap as a replacement for corks for wine bottle closures. But there is more to the wine packaging question.
For the small amateur winemaker, the use of glass bottles is an expensive and time consuming pursuit.
Obtaining small quantities of new bottles is almost impossible because of the virtual monopoly of the local producer and going through their distributorships is not at all cost affective. So we are forced to use recycled units. This involves washing, sterilizing and delabeling.
Granted the re use of screw capped bottles has reduced the necessity for corks but there was a need to consider alternatives to the glass bottle as well.
Some time ago I looked at using recycled PET bottles for my wine. It became obvious that soft drink bottles were unsuitable due to the flavour/odour/colour absorption of the original contents by the container.
But the use of PET bottles that had contained unflavoured mineral water, both still and carbonated, was a possibility.
I did a trail, bottling the same vintage in both containers and standing the PET bottles upright on top of the refrigerator for a year thus exposing them to ambient light and fluctuating temperatures. The glass bottles were stored normally.
After that time I did a comparative tasting.
The discernable difference in either colour or flavour.
So this year I bottled the majority of the 2007 vintage in PET. My "consumer base" was a little concerned but have come to realise that due to the quick consumption of the product there is little to be worried about.
Granted it looks a bit strange, but after all, it's the taste in the end that counts.

Then low and behold, in this month's issue of The Australian and New Zealand Grapegrower and Winemaker magazine there is an article on the use of PET bottles for wine containers.
It would seem that due to environmental concerns eg. "food miles" and "carbon footprints", the alternatives to glass are being considered by the industry.
The airline industry is already using PET 187 mL wine bottles because of the weight saving and this has caused interest to increase in other consumer markets.
Results of marketing research has shown that wine in a 750 mL PET bottle compared to traditional glass, reduces packaging weight per litre by 84%, uses 19% less energy, produces 78% less solid waste and emits 52% less greenhouse gas.
And research into the affect of shelf life of the product has also been initiated.
So there is a definite move in that direction. What will the traditionalists say?
Modesty prevents me from saying I am ahead of my time.

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