wine tidbits; PET & oxygen

I recently blogged about an article written by Jerry Hirsh commenting on “Chateau Plastique”, referring to wines bottled in PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) plastic bottles.  The idea being that plastic bottles weigh less, consequently have a smaller carbon footprint and have no effect on wine NOT intended for long term aging (though might not be suited for wines that are to be cellared for several years).

I recently came across another article on the topic on “”, and found it of interest in that it quoted some numbers referencing how FEW bottles are actually laid down in a cellar and aged for future consumption.

Quoting Patrick Egan, brand manager for innovation at Boisset Family Estates, the article states that “There are 2.6 billion cases of wine sold in the world each year, of that, 70 percent costs less than $12 per bottle, and 70 percent is [consumed] within three hours of purchase.”  THREE HOURS!  WOW!

I find those stats to be remarkable.  But not surprising.  What is in fact surprising to me (though it probably shouldn’t be) are the number of people buying expensive wine (say for example $30+) these days.  Though I’m sure there are MANY out there who would argue with me, I tend to think that these “expensive” wines are MADE for aging & when consumed young they are often LESS accessible than their more affordable little brothers (wines possibly made from second rate fruit & aged using a cheaper oak program – say American vs. French oak barrels).  So although the 70% number (wines costing less than $12) is high, I sometimes wonder if the number should be even higher considering how much of wine purchased is immediately consumed…??

This is a BIG can of worms that I’ll continue to elude to in the future, but it is something I have thought a lot about…

Also of interest was an article about the interaction of oxygen & wine.  These items are somewhat related as it has to do with the aging of wine in bottles.  Now “bottle aging” has always been a bit of a mystery to me.  But when asked about it I simply explained (as I learned) that the cork on a bottle of fine wine is porous and allows a microscopic amount of air into the bottle, thereby continuing the micro-oxygenation process started while the wine aged in the (porous) barrel, and leading to a properly bottle-aged wine.  When pushed about alternate closures or how the air gets in when the cork is intentionally kept wet (by storing the wine on its side) I simply shrugged.

Well, I’m still a bit confused, but the article written by Jamie Goode for wines & vines did explain one aspect of bottle aging – that being the interaction of oxygen left in the “head-space” of a bottle of wine when it is first bottled.

Goode talks about oxygen levels in PPM (parts per million) as well as other wine science stuff.  The article is quite technical and definitely beyond my comprehension, but Alder Yarrow of explains it succinctly when he states; “The oxygen in the “headspace” ends up being absorbed by the wine in about 10 months of aging. And once in the wine, that dissolved oxygen goes about doing a lot of things that basically involve “aging” the wine. In particular, affecting its color”.  COOL!

Hope some of you found this to be of as much interest as I did…

Happy PET bottled & properly oxygenated wine tasting!


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