The SW Summary: On glass bottles, cloud seeding, sulfites and more

By Hanna Halmari
Sustainable wine: Increased awareness, lower purchase-intent

Published earlier this month, the Wine Intelligence Global SOLA: Opportunities for Sustainable and Organic 2021 report examines the impact of Covid-19 on consumers’ perception of sustainable wines. Lulie Halstead highlights how the research shows that whilst awareness of “sustainable and alternative wines” has increased in the last year, less consumers are purchasing these wines.

Sustainable glass? Perceptions, alternatives and innovations

In Wine Intelligence, Courtney Abernathy discusses how the recent Global Sola 2021 report reveals how “more wine drinkers believe” that glass bottles are a sustainable form of packaging “compared with boxed wine.” This perception of glass is also discussed by Jancis Robinson in her article in which she takes a closer look at glass recycling and the alternative wine packaging options. As Robinson points out, “the glass may not be greener.”

However, innovations to improve the sustainability of glass are underway. Writing for Harpers, Lisa Riley discusses the creation of the “world’s most sustainable glass bottle” by Encirc, a glass container manufacturer. In partnership with Glass Futures, a research and technology organisation, Encirc has produced a bottle made entirely from recycled glass, “using only the energy…from biofuels.” According to Encirc, this reduces each bottle’s carbon footprint “by up to 90%.”

Help against hail in Bordeaux

In Vinography, Alder Yarrow discusses the hopeful plans of winegrowers in Saint-Emilion in Bordeaux to combat the increasingly significant problem of crop-destroying hail. The winegrowers have invested in a “collective hail control system.” The system relies on a largely disputed theory of cloud seeding, or “introducing particulates into clouds to trigger precipitation.”

Transparency in wine: Wine labelling requirements in Europe

Writing for Wine Searcher, W. Blake Grey reports on the upcoming wine labelling requirements for wines sold in Europe. By 2022, wine labels are expected to disclose additives and calorie information. Grey discusses how and why “Comité Européen des Entreprises Vins (CEEV) is actually leading the charge to require two additional labels.”

Out of this world

In November 2019 and March 2020 respectively, Space Cargo Unlimited (SCU) shipped 12 bottles of Bordeaux wine and 320 grapevines up to the International Space Station. This January saw the shipment return back to earth, reports Jack Guy for CNN. Researchers are busy analysing the wine and vines to understand the effects of being up in space.

The perceptual war against sulfites

Writing for Wine Enthusiast, Maria Hunt discusses the perceptual war against sulfites exasperating many in the wine industry. Wine, by default, contains natural sulfites as a byproduct of the fermentation process. Sometimes winemakers add additional sulfites to ensure freshness, prevent oxidation and bacterial growth. Despite the fact that sulfite-free wine is impossible, sulfites are often blamed for “wine headaches” and “[remain]…public enemy No.1 in wine.” 

This consumer trend and demand has led to a rise in “no sulfites added” wines and devices to remove sulfites from wine, highlights Rupert Joy in his article for Decanter. Joy proceeds to discuss the pros and cons of the “increasingly mainstream” no sulfites added approach.

On contracts and Covid

In Wine Searcher, Kathleen Willcox examines how the impacts of wildfires and Covid-19 have changed the way growers and winemakers do business. Amidst a volatile and uncertain landscape “securing solid contracts is golden.” As a result, many growers are rapidly moving from traditional verbal agreements to detailed written agreements.