Don't call in the heavies for the wrong consumer types

02 May, 2008

I nearly sprained my wrist lifting a bottle of Tuscan red off the table last night. It was so heavy that, even emptied of the 75cl of wine it contained, it could still pass muster as a reasonably challenging dumb bell. Nor was this an isolated incident. I may be getting older (or just feebler), but I reckon

an increasingly significant number of fine or wannabe fine wines are packaged in this way.

This used to be almost exclusively an Italian thing. But now it's spreading like a particularly nasty virus. In recent weeks, I've opened heavyweight bottles from France, Spain, Argentina, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, Portugal and South Africa. It's almost as if there's a direct correlation between the ambitions of the wine, not always realised it must be said, and the amount of calories you expend pouring it into your glass.

When you take as many flights as I do each year, you're not in the strongest of positions to lecture wine producers about their carbon footprints, but here goes anyway. At a time when we should all be doing something, however small, to reduce the impact of climate change, the wine trade is scoring an all-too-obvious own goal. It should be considering a paradigm shift towards shipping in bulk (and local bottling), or at the very least much lighter forms of packaging. Instead of which it appears to be doing the opposite, increasingly favouring the SUVs of the glass world.

What purpose do these bottles serve? The answer has everything to do with creating an impression with a certain type of consumer and nothing to do with quality. It's time the producers who favour such bottles changed their ways. Otherwise, boycotts by consumers cannot be too far way.




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