A can of red, a bag of white – the wine world is responding to climate change
Grape cultivation and wine making are not major contributors to climate change, although wineries have been slow to recover CO2 emissions. The two big problems are the bottles and the transport. “Why do we put wine in bottles? Asks Ronan Farrell of importer Wine Lab. “It’s just a transport ship and you can’t imagine worse in so many ways.”
We love glass bottles and in some ways they are one of the most environmentally friendly forms of packaging. Glass can be recycled indefinitely in a closed loop cycle, and it is made from widely available natural materials. On the other hand, its manufacture requires a large amount of energy, and we only use it once before recycling it. In addition, the glass is relatively heavy and shatters easily.
We don’t yet produce wine on this island, so everything has to be imported, often from far away countries like New Zealand and Argentina. Many inexpensive wines are now shipped in giant flexible 25,000-liter tanks and bottled in Europe, reducing shipping costs and sea kilometers.
Alternatives to glass include plastic bottles, bag-in-boxes, Tetra Paks, and cans. Everything works well for wines intended to be consumed young. Wine Lab has led the way here with alternative forms of packaging. It supplies wine in mini-barrels to restaurants and pubs. “People are now used to the idea, especially those who are concerned about climate change. We have 60 wines on tap and a dozen cocktails; we work with serious producers and have done all the styles, ”says Farrell. They collect their voids and send them back to the Netherlands for reuse. They also offer wine in sachets, bag-in-boxes and cans.
Wines Direct’s Gareth Keogh said he would continue to import a range of bag-in-box wines imported for the first time during the lockdown. “They are lighter, better value for money and that means you can have a nice glass of wine when you need it.”
At the other end of the supply chain, Phillip Cox of Romanian producer Cramele Recas says: “We have been pushing glass suppliers for many years to supply lighter bottles, and we have had some success. We currently use some of the lightest bottles available, around 345-365g empty, compared to the industry average of 450-500g. This means that we can put around 10% more wine in an average truck, saving both money and carbon footprint. “
“We’re always looking for alternatives to glass, but so far I can’t say we’ve found any. Plastic bottles may offer a lightweight alternative, but no one wants to hear about plastic just yet. The bag-in-box is important and growing in popularity in places like Scandinavia, but its lifespan is only about nine months. We will therefore continue to push for lighter packaging, bottles, caps and cartons, and we will seek new solutions. “
Old Vine Garnacha No.5 2019, Canned Wine Co
14.5%, € 7 for a can of 250 ml
A full-bodied red with refreshing strawberries and a smooth, tannin-free finish. Perfect with a mid-week lamb or beef stew.
Of: The bottle store, Bray, bottleshopbray.fr; Deveney’s, Dublin 14, deveneys.fr; Cass & Co, Dungarvan, cassansdco.ie; The Lighthouse, Dún Laoghaire, lighthousedublin.com; MVP, Dublin 8, mvpdublin.com; Neighborhood wine, quartierwine.ie; The Bernard Shaw, Dublin 7, thebernardshaw.com; Provender & Family, Dublin 7; winelab.fr
Wildflower Shiraz 2020, Cramele Recas, Romania (vegan)
13.5%, € 13.95
A medium bodied wine in a light bottle; a sweet Syrah with ripe plum fruit and a touch of spice. Try with herbed pork chops or a baked chicken and pepper dish.
Of: O’Briens, Obrienswine.ie.
Un’Ombra Sauvignon Blanc 2020, IGP Trevenezie 13%, € 25 for the 150cl pouch
A subtle, slightly aromatic Sauvignon with crisp green fruit and a dry, crunchy finish. An excellent aperitif, with goat cheese salads, or seafood pasta dishes.
Of: The Bottle Shop, Bray, bottleshopbray.ie; The circular, Rialto, D8, thecircular.ie; Deveney’s, Dublin 14, Deveneys.fr; Lennox St Grocer, Dublin 8, lennoxstreet.ie; Beau Vino, Castleknock, beau-vino.ie; Neighborhood wine, quartierwine.ie; station2stationwine.ie; The Wine Pair, Dublin 8, thewinepairdublin.com; The Lamplight, Clifden, thelamplight.ie.
Colutta Pinot Grigio 2020, Friuli Colli Orientali 13%, € 62.30 for a 3lt bag-in-box
Floral with a perfect blend of fleshy textured peach, cantaloupe melon and zesty lemon. A very attractive wine to drink solo, with a grilled sea bass, or a carbonara.
Of: Wines Direct, Mullingar, winedirect.fr.