Dave Pearce crunches carbon numbers for breakfast. The kiwi winemaker at Grove Mill winery has studied the carbon footprint of wine, reduced what emissions he can at his winery, and purchased offsets for the rest.
We sat down over a macchiato in NYC one morning and discussed his views on alternative packaging. Although he recognizes the weight of glass and its role in the overall carbon footprint, his own wines still come in glass bottles. His thoughts, in brief:
* Glass: although recycling glass takes more energy than making virgin glass, it is better overall since it reduces raw material inputs. Grove Mill uses a lightweight bottle, which means 25 percent more wine in a container, he says.
* PET bottles: “oxygen migration” is a “major problem” for plastic bottles, Pearce says, and can hasten the oxidation of wine. He encourages me to test it at home with the same spring water bottled in glass and plastic and suggests it’s particularly obvious with tonic water (pity ours has high fructose corn syrup).
* Bag-in-box: Pearce is a fan. He says the aluminum layer in the best bags greatly reduces oxygen migration, which instead mainly comes through the valve once opened. He doesn’t use it for Grove Mill, he says, because he would have to buy the cardboard made in Australia: “We have forests right by us that we could make into paper.”
* Pouch: he’s no marsupial, but he likes a good pouch; the bag (sans box) is akin to a Capri Sun. It stands up on a shelf and when empty, takes up virtually no space and weighs practically nothing. If this were ever to take off in the US, it would have to have a sexier name than pouch.
* TetraPak: efficient packing in shipping containers, light, little waste and better oxygen prevention than PET; on the con side, he says that it’s not rigid and not as attractive as glass.
* Aluminum cans: The most appealing part of aluminum, he says, is that recycling takes only five percent of the energy used to make it. He was seriously considering it for his own wine until he realized the byproducts of smelting are “massive.”