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A History of Wine in Plastic

Wine in plastic was first introduced in Australia when winemaker, Tom Angove, patented boxes and bags that could hold wine in a box. Of course, wine can’t be stored in cardboard only, so inside the box was (and is) a plastic bladder. That was just over 50 years ago. Today, if you stroll up and down your supermarket wine aisles, you’ll see plastic wine bottles of varying sizes. You’ll also find wine in plastic, screw-topped bottles on planes or trains, for convenience and safety.

Why’s wine in plastic bottles popular?

Plastic bottles have several advantages over glass bottles. For one thing, they are lighter and secondly, they don’t shatter when you drop them. You can take them on picnics and to outdoor events where they are not classed as offensive weapons. Because they don’t break, no glass will be left behind for people and animals to step on. They’re safe containers for wine. Also, many people are conscious of the environment and so favour wine in recyclable plastic bottles. Carrying them to a recycling station is relatively easy compared to carrying bags of glass bottles. Also, you can now have wine in plastic bottles that can be delivered through the mail slot in your door.

Another reason for the popularity of plastic wine bottles is that wine in plastic is cheaper than wine in glass bottles due to the lower costs of logistics. However, you won’t find a fine wine for laying down in plastic bottles, at least not yet.

Plastic-lined cans of wine

In the United States and Australia, there’s a growing market for canned wine, with the cans being lined with plastic. All you have to do is open the tab and drink the wine. You can drink it straight from the can or pour it into a glass, whichever you prefer. Pundits say that these cans are popular with millennials who don’t have an allegiance to wine which comes in glass bottles, complete with corks. They’re not as traditional as older wine drinkers.

As long as the cans are lined, the aluminium tin doesn’t contaminate the wine or compromise its taste. Wine in cans remains fresh and changes less than wines closed in bottles with screw caps or corks.

Plastic containers make shipping wine easier and cheaper

Shippers of wine prefer to use huge plastic containers, rather than steel ones, as they’re cheaper. Increasingly, more vintners in Australia and other countries are using plastic tanks to ferment their grapes. This process can take several weeks or several years in the case of red wines. After the wine has matured it’s transferred to traditional glass bottles so that it can continue ageing. Interestingly, the use of plastic tanks happened out of necessity when, in 2012 in California, wooden barrels and steel tanks were in short supply when there was a glut of wine. The grape growers have continued to use plastic tanks and, because of the price, more growers are turning to plastic tanks for their wine-making needs.

Plastic wine bottles and fermenting tanks are unlikely to take over from glass bottles and wooden barrels just yet, at least in the vintage sector of the wine market. However, with more innovations and the clear benefits of wine in plastic, this should happen in the future.

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