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Is it time to cut back on bottled wine?

Is it time to cut back on bottled wine?

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Of late, it’s wine or bubbly in a can, that is having its moment.

Of late, it’s wine or bubbly in a can, that is having its moment.

Is it time to cut back on bottled wine?
Wine in a box. Wine in anything other than a bottle. Screw cap bottle. Wine stopped with anything besides a cork. These all used to be swear words heard from vineyard to sommelier or dinner party to host. Or at least they were a no-no if you wanted to associate your drinking choices with anything premium. That is, until a short while ago.

Now, as sustainability starts to trump extravagance, this “new” packaging makes more sense in terms of convenience, freshness, health and a better green rating.

Of late, it’s wine or bubbly in a can, that is having its moment.

Just recently, the UK’s first English wine in a can was released by The Uncommon Wine of England, who market their elegant canned wines as positive for the environment. With bubbly wines and botanical spritzers ornately designed with quaint English illustrations, they are catching eyes with their high-end products that are endlessly recyclable. Plus, the brand remains true to its British roots by including flavors such as elderberry and sherbet, which only makes them more attractive to the UK market.  

Many other wine producers from all over the world have hopped on the trend in recent years. One of the biggest wine brands in the world, Barefoot, even launched their line of canned wines from California.

From Te Méiro in New Zealand to Ojós Rose in Chile, Pablo y Walter in Argentina and Nice in France, we see wineries around the world jumping on board and changing our minds about canned wine.

But why now? Marketed to Millennials (aka Generation Green) or younger, more brands realise that they need to make changes to become more eco-friendly and appealing to certain age groups.

Fortune shared that in the U.S. the category had already “grown 67% in the past year, clocking in at $75 million (£ 54.37 million) in sales, according to Nielsen data in May 2019”.

So, what are these tins made of, and what does it take to get the wine into them and then into our mouths? And are they good for us and the planet?

Is tin greener than glass?

According to the BBC, 75% of used UK aluminum cans do get recycled and they are more energy efficient than bottles because they weigh less, use less space, and stack more easily, literally lightening the load.  Aluminum cans do have to be internally coated with a Bisphenol-A Epoxy-Acrylate lacquer, but BPA is said to be safe in low quantities used in food products – although some research on its increased exposure sees a link to high blood pressure and a negative impact on brain health. None of this research has shown any direct cause and effect though, says the United States Food and Drug Administration.

Lightweight and lighter than glass, aluminium cans are also unbreakable and require less time to chill their contents. You also won’t need a corkscrew to open or glasses to drink out of. Or paper for labelling. So much more suitable for BBQs, festivals, concerts, picnics, other outdoor events and in-flight dining too – this all makes for a smaller carbon footprint compared to glass bottles.

And National Geographic reports that, “Glass and metals, including aluminum, can effectively be recycled indefinitely, without a loss of quality. In fact, aluminum cans have consistently shown the highest value among recycled commodities and remain in high demand.”

But what about taste?

If glass wasn’t breakable, it would be the safest in terms of health. So says The Washington Post. “Because glass is made of natural materials, there is no danger of inorganic chemicals leaching into liquids when it’s heated or cooled. It also doesn’t hold flavour – some people complain that water in plastic or metal bottles tastes like chemicals or tin.”

Yet, Huffington Post conducted a blind test with a panel of 25 tasters on canned vs bottled beer in 2012 to test the theory that you can taste the difference between drinks that have been bottled or canned. The tasters preferred the canned drink from three out of four brands they tried and only just over half of them could even identify which beers had come in a can.

But then there’s the question of storing a can when it’s been opened. When a can is closed, it is air- and light-tight so its contents stay fresh for longer than in other containers.

Some important quantities to note: one glass of wine is about 175ml, roughly 2.5 units of alcohol. The Uncommon makes it very clear on its packaging that there are two glasses in each of its 250ml cans, while others market themselves as single serve with the same volume. So what happens if you only want one glass? Wine goes off in the fridge because of oxidisation and acetic acid bacteria that “consumes the alcohol in wine, leaving behind a bitter vinegar-like taste and smell.” While keeping it in cooler temperatures slows down both processes, it will still eventually spoil.

A lot of us may have stoppers for wine, re-use the cork they were bottled with or have used the teaspoon trick to keep bubbles going for longer in our sparkling wines or MCCs but how do we seal an open can?

While we wait for more innovation in this space and answer the call for more responsible drinking, even wine snobs should find something to be excited about in this growing trend.

Wine in a box. Wine in anything other than a bottle. Screw cap bottle. Wine stopped with anything besides a cork. These all used to be swear words heard from vineyard to sommelier or dinner party to host. Or at least they were a no-no if you wanted to associate your drinking choices with anything premium. That is, until a short while ago.

Now, as sustainability starts to trump extravagance, this “new” packaging makes more sense in terms of convenience, freshness, health and a better green rating.

Of late, it’s wine or bubbly in a can, that is having its moment.

Just recently, the UK’s first English wine in a can was released by The Uncommon Wine of England, who market their elegant canned wines as positive for the environment. With bubbly wines and botanical spritzers ornately designed with quaint English illustrations, they are catching eyes with their high-end products that are endlessly recyclable. Plus, the brand remains true to its British roots by including flavors such as elderberry and sherbet, which only makes them more attractive to the UK market.  

Many other wine producers from all over the world have hopped on the trend in recent years. One of the biggest wine brands in the world, Barefoot, even launched their line of canned wines from California.

From Te Méiro in New Zealand to Ojós Rose in Chile, Pablo y Walter in Argentina and Nice in France, we see wineries around the world jumping on board and changing our minds about canned wine.

But why now? Marketed to Millennials (aka Generation Green) or younger, more brands realise that they need to make changes to become more eco-friendly and appealing to certain age groups.

Fortune shared that in the U.S. the category had already “grown 67% in the past year, clocking in at $75 million (£ 54.37 million) in sales, according to Nielsen data in May 2019”.

So, what are these tins made of, and what does it take to get the wine into them and then into our mouths? And are they good for us and the planet?

Is tin greener than glass?

According to the BBC, 75% of used UK aluminum cans do get recycled and they are more energy efficient than bottles because they weigh less, use less space, and stack more easily, literally lightening the load.  Aluminum cans do have to be internally coated with a Bisphenol-A Epoxy-Acrylate lacquer, but BPA is said to be safe in low quantities used in food products – although some research on its increased exposure sees a link to high blood pressure and a negative impact on brain health. None of this research has shown any direct cause and effect though, says the United States Food and Drug Administration.

Lightweight and lighter than glass, aluminium cans are also unbreakable and require less time to chill their contents. You also won’t need a corkscrew to open or glasses to drink out of. Or paper for labelling. So much more suitable for BBQs, festivals, concerts, picnics, other outdoor events and in-flight dining too – this all makes for a smaller carbon footprint compared to glass bottles.

And National Geographic reports that, “Glass and metals, including aluminum, can effectively be recycled indefinitely, without a loss of quality. In fact, aluminum cans have consistently shown the highest value among recycled commodities and remain in high demand.”

But what about taste?

If glass wasn’t breakable, it would be the safest in terms of health. So says The Washington Post. “Because glass is made of natural materials, there is no danger of inorganic chemicals leaching into liquids when it’s heated or cooled. It also doesn’t hold flavour – some people complain that water in plastic or metal bottles tastes like chemicals or tin.”

Yet, Huffington Post conducted a blind test with a panel of 25 tasters on canned vs bottled beer in 2012 to test the theory that you can taste the difference between drinks that have been bottled or canned. The tasters preferred the canned drink from three out of four brands they tried and only just over half of them could even identify which beers had come in a can.

But then there’s the question of storing a can when it’s been opened. When a can is closed, it is air- and light-tight so its contents stay fresh for longer than in other containers.

Some important quantities to note: one glass of wine is about 175ml, roughly 2.5 units of alcohol. The Uncommon makes it very clear on its packaging that there are two glasses in each of its 250ml cans, while others market themselves as single serve with the same volume. So what happens if you only want one glass? Wine goes off in the fridge because of oxidisation and acetic acid bacteria that “consumes the alcohol in wine, leaving behind a bitter vinegar-like taste and smell.” While keeping it in cooler temperatures slows down both processes, it will still eventually spoil.

A lot of us may have stoppers for wine, re-use the cork they were bottled with or have used the teaspoon trick to keep bubbles going for longer in our sparkling wines or MCCs but how do we seal an open can?

While we wait for more innovation in this space and answer the call for more responsible drinking, even wine snobs should find something to be excited about in this growing trend.

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