Sipped: Peter Singer, Princeton ethicist
“And buying the merlot may help sustain a tradition in the French countryside that we value–a community, a way of life, a set of values that would disappear if we stopped buying French wines. I doubt if you travel to Fiji you would find a tradition of cultivation of Fiji water.” Excellent! He’s clearly been reading his Dr. Vino! [great piece on bottled water in Fast Company]
Sipped: NYC tap water
The NYT gives NYC tap water a thumbs up for taste and price, pointing out that eight glasses of tap water a year has a total tab of $0.49. [NYT]
Sipped: Oregon wine tourism
Oregon Wine has a new interactive map for plotting your next trip to the state. Good stuff–we love maps! [Oregon Wine]
Sipped: Michigan wine country(?)
“There’s a quiet revolution happening here,” Joel Goldberg, a local wine writer, told the NYT about the burgeoning wine life in Michigan. “Go off a side road and through the woods and you’ll find a vineyard here, a vineyard there — hundreds of acres of new vineyards are going in all over the place. And there are some real quality wines.” [NYT travel]
Spit: EU wine reform, in Central Europe
“If this EU reform is passed, I think the size of the vineyards under cultivation in Hungary will be halved. It could create a dramatic situation,” Laszlo Kiss, president of Hungary’s National Council of Wine Communities. [AFP].
Spit: California Rhone-style wine under $10
“Why can’t California deliver the same kind of terroir [as a Cotes du Rhone] for $10? “[SF Chron]
Keen readers of this site know my antipathy–nay hostility–for bottled water. I gave up the easily substitutable beverage for thirty days to offset my wine carbon footprint, allowing me to enjoy wine from all corners of the earth with a clearer conscience.
Now we wine drinkers can focus our animosity at BlingH2O. This new product apes wine by calling itself the “Cristal” of bottled water, is sold in glass bottles with wine-like sizing, a cork, and for a wine-like price of $20 a pop–and a 375ml pop at that! (The water is “bottled at the source in Dandridge, Tennessee.”)
BlingH2o, you and your Swarovski crystal-encrusted, frosted glass bottle, you’re on notice!!!
Yes! I made it 30 days with no (er, little) bottled water! And I’m not even living in a yurt, making clothing from alpacas that I’m raising, and eating exclusively local root vegetables.
Thirty days with no bottled water may not seem like a lot. And, quite frankly, it’s not. I didn’t bring Aquafina to their knees. And I did cause myself a lot of inconvenience.
For those of you who just tuned in, the logic behind my self-imposed ban on bottled water (and soda) is a form of my own carbon offset. Yes, it would have been a lot easier to pay $15 to buy some credits. But I wanted to take matters into my own hands and go bottle-for-bottle offsetting the carbon of my wine consumption. My logic was that the wine I enjoy is unique while the bottled water I can buy at every corner shop is easily substitutable with tap water and a little planning.
So what I’ve learned:
* Try not to blast the air conditioning with the windows open (actually I jest–the AC was coincidentally–and annoyingly!–broken during the entire period).
* NYC tap water really does taste like chlorine. And it is best served cold, VERY cold.
* Refilling the same Poland Spring bottle for a few weeks straight isn’t the best idea.
So am I going to keep up the ban forever? No. But I’m going to reduce the amount of bottled water, especially non-sparkling, that I buy. In fact, British consumers were urged last week to substitute French wine for New Zealand wine in the name of finding a wine that had fewer “food miles” under its belt.
This is nonsense. British wine consumers should instead celebrate the diversity of distinctive wines from around the globe and instead perform their own offsets and drink tap water. Or something else less fun. Just don’t give up the diversity of wine!
So what am I going to drink to celebrate? You might think a big glass of Pellegrino. But actually, since I included all club soda and tonic water, I have been thinking about a Tom Collins (gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and club soda) ever since I read Eric Felten’s WSJ article ten days ago. So tonight I’ll be mixing up a cocktail before dinner. And maybe I’ll just have a glass of tap water to go with my wine at dinner.
As I was watching planes take off and land last Friday at LaGuardia, I contemplated the folly of my bottled water ban. Jets roared overhead burning carbon and spewing emissions and I am doing what–not drinking a few bottles of water in the name of carbon neutrality? My ban seemed so piddly.
But that doesn’t mean it is easy! I had to remembered to bring my water bottle with me, filled up from home. Then I had to chug it in line at the TSA to go through devoid of fluids. Then fill it up again on the other side of TSA at the drinking fountain.
Nor have I been without transgressions–yes, I fell of the water wagon in less than a week! At a lunch, an overly enthusiastic waiter poured me a glass of Pellegrino. Then I had the ridiculous choice of throwing away perfectly good water or drinking it. I drank it and asked for tap water next time. As the level of that water lowered, I got refilled with Pellegrino.
It would be so much easier to drink bottled water at will and just pay $15 and buy some carbon offsets…
I’m giving up water for 30 days. Bottled water that is.
In the discussion of the carbon footprint of wine here last week, I floated the idea of purchasing carbon offsets to assuage carbon guilt. In case I had any doubt of the efficacy of this matter, an excellent column in the Financial Times last week on the subject of offsets made me put paid to this notion.
A hilarious quote compared the system of carbon offsets to “the medieval system of indulgences, in which corrupt priests absolved sins for haggled fees.” The author, John Guthrie, went on to say that the practice of buying tracts of forest land for protection as offsets may be out of favor now. The band Coldplay bought 10,000 mango trees in southern India to offset the carbon produced by the release of their second album. Five years later, the trees have now withered and died.
So if I am to make my wine drinking carbon neutral, I can’t buy my way out of it: I actually have to give something up. I figure I should go beverage-for-beverage, in other words, keep wine, and give up something else. I’d love to say that I would give up soda, but since I haven’t had a soda in something like 15 years, that would kind of be like my giving up snowmobiling, jet-skiing, and being driven to work in a stretch Hummer limousine (oh wait, that last one actually WILL be tough to give up).
Because the kind of wine that I enjoy is a unique product that can’t be replaced locally, I have another target in my sights that can: bottled water. It’s one of those paradoxes of the global era to be able to buy spring water from the French alps or the islands of Fiji in New York when there is abundant drinkable tap water available (unlike some countries, the efforts of a current UNICEF campaign). And, as a commenter pointed out in a previous posting, this chart shows that bottled water’s growth rate is faster than wine–it must be stopped!
So for 30 days I’m not going to consume any bottled water. Just what kind of a sacrifice will that be? Granted, not a huge one. I might save the world something like 30 bottles of water. But it’s a start. And I may even extend it if I can live without my favorite Gerolsteiner. So if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and fill up my water bottle at the drinking fountain.
I recently tasted the intense, fruit-forward Tikal, Amorio, 2005 (about $30; find this wine). Along with notes of dark berries, tobacco and toast, was there also a whiff of petroleum?
The wine’s oversized bottle complemented the flavor profile perfectly since the bottle weighed about as much empty as a regular bottle full. I pity the wine store clerk who has to lift a case of it.
The heavy bottle took a long, meandering route to get to me in New York City. Starting out at the winery in Mendoza, Argentina, the wine’s American importer trucked it over the Andes to the port of San Antonio in Chile. There it loaded a boat and went to Oakland, CA. From there it came across country by truck to me in New York.
That’s a lot of carbon used to bring me this bottle of vino. But is it too much? At least the heavy bottle didn’t come by plane, which would have really jacked the petroleum per ounce of wine.
I was intrigued to read in the SF Chronicle that several restaurants have stopped serving (imported) bottled water because it is deemed too carbon inefficient.
Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma prompted many eaters to think about the “carbon footprint” of their food and consider locally produced foods. Does that translate for you to your wine consumption?
The key issue for me is ease of substitution. I may be able to get water from local sources, but I can’t get any malbec locally. A tough call. Perhaps any eco guilt could be assuaged by buying carbon offsets?