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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 anything other than a glass bottle with a cork used to be 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, “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 (or PET bottle) that is having its moment and wine producers are increasingly hopping on the trend. Why now? When marketing 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. The trend is global. And in Norway returnable PET bottles is also a thing and hopefully something for other countries to aspire to. Returnable bottles and cans (for beer, wine and hard liquor) were introduced at the Vinmonopolet in 2019, as part of a goal to reduce CO2 emissions and the number has grown considerably the last two years.

How are cans and PET bottles greener than glass?

Both tin cans and plastic bottles are significantly lighter than glass. According to Vinmonopolet, one PET bottle weighs about 50 grams, while a glass bottle can weigh up to 1,4kg. This makes a big difference when it comes to emissions during transport when bottles are transported from countries like the US, Australia and South Africa to Norway. Cans and plastic bottles are also much less likely to break during transport.

Cans have the additional benefits of requiring less time to chill their contents, you don’t need a corkscrew to open them, nor glasses to drink out of, or paper for labelling – this all makes for a smaller carbon footprint compared to glass bottles. And much more convenient for barbecues, festivals, concerts, picnics, other outdoor events and in-flight dining.

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.”

PET bottles can also be recycled and used to make new plastic bottles and with Norway’s very efficient recycling scheme one can expect almost all the bottles to be recycled. Look for the label saying that the bottle is returnable.

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 three out of four brands they tried and only just over half of them could even identify which beers had come in a can.

Keep in mind that wine in plastic bottles is normally not wine intended to store for longer periods, but to drink within six months, e.g. this Italian organic red wine. When the can is closed, it is air- and light-tight so its contents stay fresh for longer than in other containers.

While the PET bottles can easily be closed and preserve the wine for the next day(s), it is not yet so easy to close up a can when it has been opened. So what happens if you only want one glass? One glass of wine is about 175ml, roughly 2.5 units of alcohol, while some of the cans are 375ml. Wine in an open can 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, we will just need to drink up or find someone to share it with.

Wine in anything other than a glass bottle with a cork used to be 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, “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 (or PET bottle) that is having its moment and wine producers are increasingly hopping on the trend. Why now? When marketing 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. The trend is global. And in Norway returnable PET bottles is also a thing and hopefully something for other countries to aspire to. Returnable bottles and cans (for beer, wine and hard liquor) were introduced at the Vinmonopolet in 2019, as part of a goal to reduce CO2 emissions and the number has grown considerably the last two years.

How are cans and PET bottles greener than glass?

Both tin cans and plastic bottles are significantly lighter than glass. According to Vinmonopolet, one PET bottle weighs about 50 grams, while a glass bottle can weigh up to 1,4kg. This makes a big difference when it comes to emissions during transport when bottles are transported from countries like the US, Australia and South Africa to Norway. Cans and plastic bottles are also much less likely to break during transport.

Cans have the additional benefits of requiring less time to chill their contents, you don’t need a corkscrew to open them, nor glasses to drink out of, or paper for labelling – this all makes for a smaller carbon footprint compared to glass bottles. And much more convenient for barbecues, festivals, concerts, picnics, other outdoor events and in-flight dining.

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.”

PET bottles can also be recycled and used to make new plastic bottles and with Norway’s very efficient recycling scheme one can expect almost all the bottles to be recycled. Look for the label saying that the bottle is returnable.

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 three out of four brands they tried and only just over half of them could even identify which beers had come in a can.

Keep in mind that wine in plastic bottles is normally not wine intended to store for longer periods, but to drink within six months, e.g. this Italian organic red wine. When the can is closed, it is air- and light-tight so its contents stay fresh for longer than in other containers.

While the PET bottles can easily be closed and preserve the wine for the next day(s), it is not yet so easy to close up a can when it has been opened. So what happens if you only want one glass? One glass of wine is about 175ml, roughly 2.5 units of alcohol, while some of the cans are 375ml. Wine in an open can 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, we will just need to drink up or find someone to share it with.

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