It’s always been pretty simple – wine comes in a glass bottle (generally desirable) or a cardboard box (generally to be avoided). But behold, a challenger approaches. In many winemaking hotspots, producers are making a shift to recyclable PET plastic bottles that many say are lighter and more eco-friendly than their traditional glass bottle counterparts.
"We see (plastic) as a positive step in terms of energy and production," Michael Wentworth of New Zealand's Yealands Estate winery told Reuters, adding that the bottles even take less energy to create and ship. "It's 89 percent lighter than glass, so you're reducing your carbon footprint there, as well as anytime you ship it." An obvious main concern would be the effect of plastic on the wine’s taste – but, according to Wentworth, Yealands Estate’s plastic bottled Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot both held up in blind taste tests. Other winemakers extolled the plastic bottle’s portability, for safer and easier picnics and backpacking trips.
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Still, plastic wine bottles are not without their limitations. A big concern is shelf life: studies have shown that white wine stored in a plastic bottle may only stay fresh for up to six months. EnVino reportedly dismissed this by stating that plastic wine bottles are not meant for expensive wine cellar type wines anyway, but for table wines meant to be purchased and consumed within a short amount of time.
Speaking of consumers, they could present another roadblock to plastic wine bottles – it could take a while before the general public associates wine in plastic bottles more closely with glass bottles than cardboard box counterparts. Some wineries have reported having trouble selling certain varieties in plastic bottles, especially around the holidays when consumers are more concerned with tradition (and possibly also concerned about showing up at a dinner party with a bottle that could be perceived as cheap). But as long as the green issue is able to take center stage, they could very well catch on in time.