Friday, August 12, 2005

On Tetra-Packed Wine

The LCBO is now selling French wine in tetra-packs, the type of packaging normally used with juice boxes and ready-to-use chicken broth:

This new container reduces packaging waste about 90% over bottled wine and costs much less to recycle than coloured glass. Also, it would take over 25 trucks filled with bottles to equal just one truck filled with empty Tetra Pak containers – just imagine the reduction in fuel and CO2 emissions.

With French Rabbit, only 4% of what you're bringing home is packaging (vs about 40% for bottled wine.) There's no glass, no cork, no label, no adhesive – just the wonderful wine and the pack. That's why the LCBO can offer a 1L Tetra Pak containers for $12.95, the same price as a 750 mL bottle – that gives you about 2 extra glasses of wine.

Actually, this isn't the first time the LCBO sold wine in a tetra pack. About fifteen years ago there was a brand called Vintner's Choice, which featured a litre of white wine in a tetra-pack that you opened by snipping a corner off with scissors. Which meant you had an open pack of wine in the fridge that couldn't be stoppered (unless you wanted to use Scotch tape).

Nowadays, though, these new packs have plastic screw tops, so limiting wine exposure to air is less of a problem.

I will say that I'm not completely convinced about the environmental argument -- how much energy does it take to make the tetra-pack, compared with the bottle? -- but I'm willing to try anything new at least once.

This past weekend, I tried the White Rabbit Chardonnay and Merlot. They're not spectacular -- you wouldn't necessarily try to impress a girlfriend or a client with 'em -- but the red goes well with cheese curds and the Chardonnay's just fine for washing down chicken stew.

Funnily enough, I can see a market for this: it's what I'd call cottage wine, or campground wine. It's the type of wine you'd take to a cottage or a campsite when you're not sure of the roads and you figure getting a bottle of wine out there's going to result in a broken bottle in the trunk of your SUV or in your backpack.

Which, considering that this is supposed to be cheap table wine, ain't so bad.


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