Why, oh why, does that empty wine bottle weight so much?
Have you ever asked that same question? (If not, we get it… it’s a rather geeky wine thought!) Over the last decade, we’ve spent a lot of time thinking, tasting, and writing about wine. One question we’ve often asked each other is why on Earth do some wineries bottle their wines in such heavy glass? Sparkling wines are under a great deal of pressure and therefore require a stronger bottle with thicker glass. This makes perfect sense! However, other non-bubbly wines don’t have that same need.
As I craft my wine tasting notes, I try to include as much information for you as possible. A while back, I started including alcohol percentages in my posts. Many people are sensitive to alcohol levels so having this information can help them avoid wines higher in alcohol. I also began noting whether or not the wine had a cork or screwcap. Knowing the type of bottle closure can be especially handy if you don’t have a wine key or corkscrew handy! Below is an example from a recent post.
As you can see, I’ve recently started including the empty bottle weight in my tasting notes. But what does empty bottle weight have to do with anything? Here’s how!
Needlessly heavy bottles:
• Increase the carbon footprint
More fuel is required to move them around the planet– whether it be a forklift at the winery or distributor, or the trucks, planes, barges, and even container ships hauling the wine from place to place. If you order wine online, that FedEx or UPS delivery truck uses slightly more fuel to move heavier objects than it does lighter ones. Over time, those extra pounds really add up!
• Cost more to buy
Guess who pays that cost? You, the wine drinker! Every winery factors in the cost of their materials when pricing their wines. Wineries that use heavier glass are passing those costs along to those of us buying their wine. While it makes financial business sense to do so, as a consumer, do you want to pay more for a heavy bottle that will eventually end up in your recycling bin? I didn’t think so…
• Cost more to ship
For economical reasons, many companies have shifted to shipping items in plastic bags rather than heavier, cardboard boxes. Why pay for extra shipping weight when you don’t have to? Obviously, wine bottles can’t be shipping in bags so boxes are here to stay. However, heavier bottles cost more to ship than lighter-weight glass.
• Weigh more
Let me tell you, I’ve worked at a lot of wineries and moved countless cases of wine. It’s hard work, especially when that box is filled with heavier bottles. And that extra weight affects not only winery staff, but also distributors, waitstaff and bartenders as well as grocery store employees. Countless lifting injuries can be avoided if wineries choose glass bottles that weigh less.
I encourage you to pay attention to wine bottle weights and buy lighter bottles of wine. If you’re tasting at a winery, ask why they use the bottles they do. If we all begin to buy lighter-weight wine bottles, collectively, we can get the wine industry’s attention and begin the shift toward bottles that are more environmentally friendly.
There’s really no reason to keep bottling in wine bottles with excessive weight, or fat! Wineries, slim those bottles down!
On this Earth Day (and every day), how about we all make an effort to buy wines in lighter-weight bottles? It’s better for us and the environment. And Mother Earth will benefit from our efforts!
Share how you will be making a difference on Earth Day, and every day, in the comments!
Michele Francisco, a founder and regular contributor to Winerabble, a blog primarily about Pacific Northwest wines, is living the dream in Portland, Oregon. Her passion leads some to believe she's got wine running through her veins. Contact Michele at firstname.lastname@example.org & be sure to visit her online portfolio at www.michelefrancisco.com.