Everyone who has ever hoisted a case of wine up a flight of stairs knows that those glass bottles are really heavy. It follows then that those plus or minus three billion cases of wine produced annually require untold amounts of energy to move – in the winery, transport from one country to another, or from one continent to another.
Then all these cases must be unloaded, transported to warehouses, then to retailers. Eventually, a consumer purchases a few bottles using his/her car as a means of transportation.
The amount of energy used for all this is considerable, and winery owners are beginning to think how best both weight and costs involved can be reduced.
Glass bottles are still the most popular and considered the best for preservation.
They come in a range of sizes from 187 ml to 15 litres (Metusalem size) and everything in between.
The most popular bottle size is 750 ml, although the first mouth-blown bottles were one litre since the lung capacity of blowers was just enough for blowing the bottle
The lightest 750 ml glass bottle weighs 330 grams, but some go up to one kilogram. They are recycled and reusable but not biodegradable. Silica sand, the base material for glass, is in abundance.
Bottles take up space, even in the garbage.
Bag-in-a- box containers were introduced in 1970’s but have never really gained popularity, and now only inexpensive wines are packaged in such form.
Tetra packs, first introduced in Sweden, were meant for food i.e soup, juices, and shelf-stable milk. Winemakers later adopted them but knowledgeable consumer never accepted them. They breathe and can only be used fro quick-consumption wines, are good for 12 – 18 months.
Plastic bottles (PET i.e polyethylene terephthelate) do not breath and are light, but distributors and consumers never favoured them. Boisset, the largest Burgundy shipper, as well as a few Australian wineries tried PET bottles but felt necessary to switch to light-weight glass.
PET bottles are petroleum based and do not biodegrade, and preserve wine much less effectively than glass.
Aluminium wine vessels do not shatter, exclude light, are light, and can be recycled. The wine is preserved for up to 24 months, but only small size containers have been popular (187 – 250 ml) with young consumers. Wineries recommend using such wines within six months.
Stainless steel kegs holding up to 18 litres are equipped with inert gas injectors. They save energy, space, are practical only for high volume restaurants and bars.
They are popular with wineries in California, Oregon and Washington state, but not elsewhere in the USA or fort hat matter in the world.
This is due to their weight and bulkiness.
In 2011, a company introduced a paper bottle that consists of a sturdy shell of pulp-moulded paper with a thin plastic liner. It is lightweight and compostable. The popularity remains to be seen.
For my money, the glass bottle is still the best, and multiuse wine vessel.