Wine heavyweights attack heavy bottles

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  • Friday 22 February 2008

Two influential wine personalities, Jancis Robinson and Oz Clarke, have attacked heavy wine bottles over the past week.

Robinson launched a ‘name and shame’ campaign on her subscription-basis website to put the heaviest wine bottles in the spotlight. ‘I’d like to introduce a feature in which you name and shame below the wines you come across that are packaged in ridiculously heavy bottles,’ Robinson wrote last Saturday.

Speaking at the 2008 Climate Change and Wine Conference in Barcelona, Clarke attacked luxury winemakers’ habit of using heavy bottles as environmentally irresponsible. ‘I think its one of the biggest nonsenses when the empty bottle weighs as much as a full bottle from another winery,’ Clarke told Harpers TV.

The average wine bottle weighs 500g in Britain, according to British Glass, an organisation that works in government’s Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP). The results of a two-year WRAP study will be available at the end of March.

British Glass says UK glass waste could be reduced by 20,000 tonnes by encouraging the lightweighting of wine bottles – something that several retailers and mass-market brand owners have already said they will do.

Prestige winemakers have remained more reluctant to abandon their heavy bottles, but experts are now urging them to reconsider. ‘Climate change is here. It's frightening and thrilling at the same time but companies can make lots of profit out of being socially aware,’ Clarke said.

Lighter packaging represents a win-win situation as savvy winemakers can position themselves as environmentally-aware while enjoying reduced transportation costs.

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